The Council held its 2010 "Look Forward" meeting at the end of February. The theme was "Euthanasia and palliative care"
Prior to the meeting, professor Peder Agger, Chair of the Council, along with Council member, director Karin Verland, had attended a course with the theme "Suffering, Death and Palliative Care" at the University of Nijmegen, Netherlands.
At the meeting in February the Council had invited a guest speaker, professor Hans van Delden, University Medical Center, Utrecht, to further explain the situation in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands euthanasia is not allowed, but since 2002 the law has given impunity to physicians practicing euthanasia on the patients' informed request. To even consider euthanasia it is a prerequisite that the patient has unbearable pain with no prospect of recovery. 2/3 of all requests for euthanasia is rejected by doctors on the ground that the conditions are not met.
The Dutch legislation on end of life includes besides euthanasia following situations - so-called "End of Life-and-death":
- Physician-assisted suicide.
- Termination of life without the patient's explicit request.
- Intense pain even as a side effect may accelerate death.
- Refraining from initiating or continuing treatment.
- Terminal sedation, that is still deep sedation until death may occur.
At the same meeting, the Council had invited two former Council members. A supporter of euthanasia, associate professor, Mr. Klemens Kappel, University of Copenhagen, and his opponent, senior consultant, former Chair of the Council, Mr. Ole J. Hartling.
The Council was also updated regarding information on how to organize and develop palliative care in Denmark. A presentation about the topic was made by cultural sociologist, Mrs. Helle Timm, centre leader at the Danish Knowledge Centre for Palliative Care (PAVI).
Under current Danish law, a terminally ill patient can refuse treatment, if the treatment is aimed at postponing death. In situations where the patient cannot exercise self-determination, the doctor may decide not to commence or continue life-prolonging treatment. The law also allows the patient to receive painkillers or sedatives to gain relief - although this treatment can accelerate the time of death.
The Council unanimously said no to legalizing euthanasia in a report back in 2003. Following the recent [2009-2010, red.] public debate in the medias the topic was put on the agenda of the 2010 "Look forward" meeting in order to update the Council members level of knowledge on the topic, as well as their positions. The Council is paying attention to the conceptual confusion that reigns in the debate, and not all members agree with the previous arguments held by the Council. After an intensive debate a large majority of the Council members wish to stay status quo and supports the positions of not having euthanasia introduced in Denmark.