Prof Theo Boer

From 2005 to 2014 Prof Dr Theo A. Boer was an ethicist on a regional Euthanasia Review Committee in the Netherlands, examining 4,000 euthanasia cases. Each of the five regional committees consists of a medical doctor, an ethicist and a lawyer, who is also the chair. The purpose of these committees is to review whether a case of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide have taken place in accordance with the “due care criteria” stipulated by the Dutch euthanasia law which came into effect in 2002.

In 2007 Dr Boer stated publicly that the Dutch euthanasia law was working well. He wrote, ‘there doesn’t need to be a slippery slope when it comes to euthanasia. A good euthanasia law, in combination with the euthanasia review procedure, provides the warrants for a stable and relatively low number of euthanasia.’

However, in 2014, he wrote an article for the Daily Mail stating, “But we were wrong – terribly wrong, in fact. In hindsight, the stabilization in the numbers was just a temporary pause.”
“I used to be a supporter of [euthanasia] legislation. But now, with twelve years of experience, I take a different view,” he wrote.

His visit is timely, since Parliament will debate Part 3 of the proposed End of Life Choice Bill on Wednesday 11 September. This Part includes a section on the proposed Review Committee.