Duties and Necessity
The defence of necessity was the route used to effectively legalize euthanasia in the Netherlands. The Dutch use of necessity focuses on the key conflict between the duty to preserve life and the duty to relieve suffering. The defence was eventually codified in 2001. The Dutch approach contrasts with the common law refusal to allow the defence of necessity to be used in murder cases, which has been re-affirmed recently in both England and Wales and Canada. These jurisdictions made differing choices regarding the use of rights and necessity as mechanisms of legal change on assisted dying. Adoption of the Dutch approach using the defence of necessity seems unlikely in common law jurisdictions. The Dutch, either through choice or happenstance, have avoided the use of constitutionally entrenched rights as the mechanism of legal change.
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