The Amazing 1994 Case of Hilly Bosscher
On June 22, 1994, The Supreme Court of Holland made a landmark ruling today that a psychiatrist who helped a physically healthy woman commit suicide would not be punished.
The court found that the psychiatrist, Doctor Boudewijn Chabot, was guilty of giving a fatal dose of sleeping pills to a severely depressed woman who was otherwise perfectly healthy. But the court said that he should not face a criminal penalty.
Previous court cases regarding euthanasia centered on physically ill petients, but Dr. Chabot's case broke new ground because his patient's suffering was mental. The patient, Hilly Bosscher, 50, reportedly had asked him to help her commit suicide because she had lost the will to live after a failed marriage and the deaths of her two sons.
Dr. Chabot's lawyer, Eugene Sutorius, said that the ruling established the principle that mercy killings were allowed in cases of mental suffering, apart from cases of physical suffering.
Theoretically, euthanasia and assisted suicide were illegal in Holland at the time (1994), although a 1981 law had lessened the chance of prosecution, and a law passed in 1993 actually issued guidelines for doctors to perform mercy killings!
Basically, Dutch doctors can escape prosecution by demonstrating that their consciences gave no choice but to end a patient's life. The patient must be suffering intolerable pain and must have repeatedly asked to die. Relatives and another doctor must be consulted. Without doubt all of this seems quite amazing to many of us who may be unfamiliar with Dutch life, but it does clearly show how once the principle of euthanasia is accepted, a slippery slope clearly emerges.