Regulating physician-assisted dying for minors in the Netherlands: Views of paediatricians and other physicians
Aim: In 2002, the Dutch Euthanasia Act came into effect, which made euthanasia available to individuals from the age of 12 and above. The objective of our study was to gain insight into how Dutch paediatricians and other physicians treating children feel about the regulation of physician-assisted dying. Methods: We interviewed 63 paediatricians, 125 general practitioners and 208 clinical specialists about their views on physician-assisted dying and the Euthanasia Act. Results: Of the paediatricians, 44% agreed with the age limit of 12 years, and 52% agreed with the requirement that parents be involved. Somewhat more than half thought the Act could contribute to the disclosure of end-of-life practices (52%), the quality of the review procedure (61%), careful decision making (54%) and the reporting rate (65%). These percentages were comparable for other physicians. A minority of the physicians in all groups indicated that, with this Act in place, they would be more willing to report such practices. The most optimistic in this respect were the paediatricians, of whom 39% expected such an effect. Conclusions: About half of Dutch paediatricians support the Euthanasia Act and expect it to achieve its aims, which is the same percentage as was found for other clinical specialists and general practitioners. However, most physicians do not foresee an increase in willingness to report cases of physician-assisted dying.