Dutch man given suspended prison sentence for aiding girlfriend’s suicide

assisted suicide, euthanasia, suicide

A man in the Netherlands has been sentenced to a suspended three months in prison for helping his girlfriend to commit suicide, after he admitted to the crime.

The man, 45-year-old Michel, was sentenced on Tuesday for helping 39-year-old Evelien take her own life. According to CNE News, she was seriously ill and had said she wanted to die. As her primary caregiver, Michel admitted he helped her commit suicide as a supposed act of love and says he stands behind his decision to do so.

“She was always dizzy and could not walk anymore,” he said. “She could not get up, go to the restroom or even move.”

Despite her deteriorating health, RTL Nieuws reported that doctors could not find a cause of her medical issues, though a German doctor thought it was Lyme disease. That diagnosis did not appear to bring treatment, however, because it could not be transferred to the Dutch health system, according to reports.

Without an official diagnosis, Evelien did not receive treatment and was not eligible for euthanasia. So she and Michel planned her death together, and Michel filmed it in an attempt to show that he didn’t kill Evelien. Once she was dead, he called a doctor and the police.

According to the court, “In the end, the woman needed more and more care and was bedridden. The suspect took full responsibility for the care needs of the woman. Because he was her only carer, they were in a tough, lonely position.”

The couple had asked questions about euthanasia from medical providers but did not submit a formal request. The court noted, “Since regular medicine was not involved in carrying out the woman’s death wish, a qualified physician has not established that there was hopeless and unbearable suffering.”

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Euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal in the Netherlands under certain criteria through the Dutch Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide Act. Every act of euthanasia and assisted suicide must be reported to one of the five euthanasia review committees, which determine if the physician in the case has taken all of the necessary steps. If he has not, he may be prosecuted. Euthanasia without due care is punishable by up to 12 years in prison, and carrying out assisted suicide without due care is punishable by up to three years in prison.

“I did not expect an acquittal because I have confessed to having committed a criminal offense,” said Michel after his sentencing. “I disagree with the rationale. We have tried so much, over the years, so often indicated how Evelien stood in it. For me, the most important thing remains that I acted on her wish. She gives me a feeling of gratitude, and I can continue with that.”

Michel is considering appealing the ruling.

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