The latest husband-and-wife euthanasia in the Netherlands took place on July 4. Nic and Trees Elderhorst, both 91, died in their home town of Didam, surrounded by family members. Neither was terminally ill, but both were in failing health. Nic, the husband, had a stroke five years ago, and Trees, the wife, was declining into dementia.

The couple had made advance directives in 2012 but they needed the euthanasia before Trees became unable to give her informed consent.

The couple applied to the Levenseindekliniek, a clinic which handles euthanasia requests when other doctors refuse. “They gave each other a big kiss and passed away confidently holding hands,” one of their daughters told a local newspaper, the Gelderlander.  

Couple euthanasia is relatively common in the Netherlands, although some requests are refused because one of the partners does not fulfil the criteria. According to the Gelderlander, there are “a few cases a year” – statistically negligible, but socially significant and, sadly, no longer surprising. 

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet. This article was originally published in BioEdge, which he also edits. 

Michael Cook

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet