The committees

The Netherlands has five regional euthanasia review committees. These committees assess whether a physician who has performed euthanasia or assisted in suicide has complied with the due care criteria set out in the Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide

In the Netherlands euthanasia is defined as the actions of a physician who terminates a patient’s life at the patient’s explicit request. Key requirements are that the request is voluntary and well-considered and that the patient’s suffering is unbearable and without prospect of improvement.

In the case of euthanasia the physician administers fatal substances (euthanatics) to the patient. In assisted suicide, the physician gives a euthanatic to the patient, who then ingests it independently.

A criminal offence, unless …

Euthanasia and assisting in suicide are in principle criminal offences, except where:

  • the assistance was given by or the procedure to terminate life was performed by a physician;
  • the physician acted in accordance with the statutory due care criteria; and the physician notified the municipal pathologist of their actions.