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Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 41, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2021

Theo A. Boer, A. Stef Groenewoud
Pages 125-147

Dutch Reformed support for Assisted Dying in the Netherlands 1969–2019
An Analysis of the Views of Parishioners, Pastors, Opinion Makers, and Official Reports of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands

In the opinion of many, medical assistance in dying is advocated primarily by secular thinkers whereas Christians seem to be more skeptical. However, we conclude that Dutch euthanasia practice, the most liberal in the world, would not have been possible without the support of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands. We examine four sources that illustrate the nature and extent of that support: national surveys from 1970–2018, official church reports from 1972–2003, contributions to the public debate in the formative 1970s and 1980s made by protestant theologians and physicians, and a recent survey amongst Reformed pastors regarding their experiences with a parishioner’s euthanasia request. In the form of seven characteristics of Dutch Calvinism we explore the reasons for this early advocacy and try to understand why this support seems to be fading since the turn of the century.

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