Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 26 September 2023

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Assisted Dying

Assisted Dying in Europe: Discussion

Professor Theo Boer:

That is a very difficult question to answer. To start with, I can safely say there is no pressure from the doctor's side. Incidentally, there are doctors who say "Have you heard, dear patient, that there is the possibility of getting assisted dying?", but those are the exceptions. Normally it is the patient who starts the subject. The second thing is, to reassure the Senator, I do not think there is much family pressure but there is a societal pressure. I compare it to flying. Everyone is flying. Even if you do not fly, you know you can fly and take an aeroplane. In the same sense, there is this general societal pressure. A good colleague of mine who was an editor at a major newspaper has analysed 50 documentaries about euthanasia in the Netherlands in the past 12 years and all 50 of them were positive about euthanasia. That may be a kind of pressure but the main kind is probably the internalised pressure in the patients themselves, namely, the patient says "I do not want to do this to my loved ones, my doctor, my country, and of course, to myself".

That is why it is very voluntary, but still there is what I call internalised pressure.