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Santorum comments on forced euthanasia cause stir in Netherlands

Ross D. Franklin / AP

Rick Santorum's recent comments on forced euthanasia are causing a stir in the Netherlands.

A Dutch politician wants his government to publicly rebuke Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum for claiming that forced euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands and that the elderly are being killed against their will.

The Dutch Embassy in Washington has declined to comment on Santorum’s recent remarks, The New York Times reported this week. An embassy spokeswoman said the Dutch government wanted to stay out of the American presidential campaign, the Times reported.

On Thursday, Dutch Member of Parliament Frans Timmermans, a leading member of the opposition left-leaning Labor Party in The Hague, blasted his government’s silence.


He wrote in a post on his Facebook page that he wanted Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal to rebuke Santorum for his “scandalous accusations,” The Times reported.

“This cannot be allowed to rest,” he wrote, according to The Times.

Earlier this month, Santorum brought up the subject of euthanasia at a forum hosted by conservative leader James Dobson.

“They have voluntary euthanasia in the Netherlands, but half the people who are euthanized every year, and it’s 10 percent of all deaths, half of those people are euthanized involuntarily in hospitals, because they are older and sick,” Santorum said. “So elderly people in the Netherlands don’t go to the hospital. They go to another country. Because they’re afraid because of budget purposes they will not come out of that hospital if they go in with sickness.”

Santorum also said some Dutch wear bracelets saying, “Don’t euthanize me.”

Santorum’s campaign did not respond to a request from The Times to explain his remarks.

FactCheck.org, a nonpartisan project that monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by U.S. politicians, said Santorum “grossly mischaracterized” euthanasia practices in the Netherlands.

It said the former Pennsylvania senator overstated the rate of euthanasia. Government statistics show euthanasia is climbing but represented only 2.3 percent of all deaths in the Netherlands in 2010, it said.

FactCheck.org said Santorum’s claims that the elderly are being killed against their will and wear “do not euthanize me” bracelets are false.

Dutch euthanasia review boards found nine cases in 2010 where doctors “had not acted in accordance with the due care criteria,” mostly for how the procedure was performed — not because it was against anyone’s will, FactCheck.org said. It added that the Dutch government and medical association say no such “Don’t euthanize me” bracelets exist.

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