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Dutch Court Sentences Suicide 'Consultant' To A Year In Prison For Helping Woman Kill Herself
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 14, 2005

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS--A self-described "suicide consultant" was sentenced last Wednesday to one year in jail for helping a woman with a mental illness to kill herself.

A court found Jan Hilarius, 73, guilty of giving information to the 25-year-old woman about deadly combinations of medicines that she then used to kill herself in 2003.

The court said that Hilarius was guilty even though he was not present with the woman when she died.

Hilarius is a founding member of the suicide consultancy De Einder, which means "horizon".

"On the basis of his experience as a social worker, J.H. should have known that he could not diagnose whether the woman was suffering unbearably," the court said.

The Netherlands became the first country to legalize euthanasia, or "mercy killing", in 2001. But the law only allows doctors to help adults die in a "medically appropriate way", and only when they have been determined by at least two physicians to be suffering, and diagnosed with a terminal illness.

"J.H. professes to respect the boundaries of the law but crossed them by providing assistance in suicide to people who possibly were really looking for medical help," the court noted.

Recent studies have shown that in recent years Dutch doctors have killed dozens of babies, or allowed them to die, because they had certain disabilities or medical conditions -- in violation of the law.

Doctors and others have been pushing for the law to be loosened so that doctors would not face prosecution for performing euthanasia outside the current guidelines.

Many disability groups have opposed expanding the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide over concerns that doing so would make people with disabilities more vulnerable.

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