Seventeen Fatally Flawed Experiments

Beginning with the first, short-lived experiment with a law permitting euthanasia, which was conducted in the Northern Territory in 1996-1997, there are seventeen jurisdictions which have (or had) a scheme permitting either euthanasia or assisted suicide or both.

For other jurisdictions considering whether or not to legalise assisted suicide or euthanasia these seventeen jurisdictions can usefully be seen as a series of seventeen experiments in attempting to create the much vaunted “safe” regime for assisted suicide or euthanasia.

The data from each of these live laboratory experiments is – to say the least – patchy. Some of the regimes, while boasting of their “safety” seem deliberately designed to so minimise the collection and publication of data as to make it intrinsically impossible ever to know if, and how often, things go wrong.

Nonetheless a careful scrutiny of all the available data on the seventeen experiments leads to the conclusion that they are all – in various ways – fatally flawed.

None of the seventeen regimes that have so far been tried or designed excludes wrongful deaths.

Download a 83 page booklet on all 17 Fatally Flawed Experiments or read further below:


Northern Territory (1996-1997)

The experiment with legalised euthanasia carried out in the Northern Territory is of particular relevance to any Australian jurisdiction considering legalising assisted suicide or euthanasia because it is the only Australian jurisdiction so far to...

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Oregon (1997- )

Oregon’s experiment, which is limited to assisted suicide, raises a particular concern as there is no witness known to be present in two out of three cases in which the lethal poison is ingested. It may have been administered to them by a family m...

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Switzerland (1998- )

The Swiss Penal Code has, since 1937, restricted the offence for inciting or assisting suicide to instances involving “selfish motives”. Since 1998 organisations such as Dignitas and Exit have relied on this provision to promote and provide assisted suicide to foreigners and residents respectively.

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Belgium (2002- )

Belgium’s experiment with euthanasia has expanded its scope continually over the past 16 years with deaths by legal euthanasia increasing more than tenfold from 235 in 2003 to 2,357 in 2018. Of deaths by euthanasia in 2018 some 14.6% involved peop...

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Netherlands (2002- )

Overall the evidence shows that patient killing in the Netherlands is increasingly seen as normative as it now accounts for 6.54% of all deaths in the Netherlands of persons aged between 60 and 80 years of age. Additionally euthanasia for dementia...

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Luxembourg (2009- )

The law requires that the person to be euthanased have unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved. However, this is assessed largely on a subjective basis. The official Commission comments: In most cases, many types of suffering, both physical a...

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Washington State (2009- )

In 2017 only 2% of those given a lethal prescription were referred to a psychiatrist or psychological for evaluation. This low rate does not reflect the known prevalence of depression in people diagnosed with a terminal illness and indicates a cav...

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Vermont (2013- )

On 20 May 2014 a community organisation, True Dignity Vermont, reported that since the law was enacted two clinical psychologists had cases of patients believing suicide was now a more acceptable option. Additionally, an 85 year old Korean war vet...

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California (2016- )

The two mandatory annual reports so far published on California’s experiment with assisted suicide contain very minimal data.  There is anecdotal evidence from a patient and a doctor that health insurers in California are refusing to cover treatme...

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Canada (2015- )

Canada was ordered by its Supreme Court to undertake an experiment in euthanasia and assisted suicide. The current terms of the experiment are already broad – a person’s death “must be reasonably foreseeable” and no objective assessment of a perso...

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Colombia (2015- )

The Constitutional Court of Colombia first attempted to force Colombia to experiment with euthanasia in a 1997 order but it took a second order in 2014 before the executive government complied. The elected parliament has still refused to pass any ...

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Colorado (2016- )

Colorado’s experiment in providing a safe regime for assisted suicide is a fail because it lacks any possibility of identifying problems and is already lackadaisical about significant non-compliance in basic reporting. In nearly one third of cases...

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District of Columbia (2017- )

Assisted suicide became lawful in the District of Columbia effective from 6 June 2017. As of 10 April 2018 no one had made use of the law. In October 2018 –during Suicide Prevention Month – a public service announcement promoting assisted suicide ...

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Hawaii (2019- )

The Our Care, Our Choice Act requires an annual report to be issued, however, there is no requirement under the Act for any information to be reported to the Department of Health on the reasons for requesting assisted suicide (apart from the under...

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Victoria (2019- )

On 19 June 2019 both assisted suicide and euthanasia became legal in Victoria. In a world first since ancient times, Victoria is l experimenting with a system of permits for the State authorised suicide of a particular, named person using a specif...

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New Jersey (2019-)

Assisted suicide will become legal in New Jersey from 1 August 2019. The Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act is essentially modelled on the Oregon and Washington laws. Minimal reporting? Section 13 of the Act requires an annual statist...

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Maine (2019-)

Assisted suicide will become legal in Maine from 17 September 2019. The Maine Death With Dignity Act is essentially modelled on the Oregon and Washington laws. It passed the House by just one vote (73-72) and the Senate by 19-16 before being signe...

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