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BETH 315/415: Death, Dying & Euthanasia: Netherlands & the USA- Course Dates: TBD. Approved for Global and Cultural Diversity Credit, College of Arts and Sciences; Approved for Humanities Credit, School of Engineering

International Bioethics Education Program

Instructor: Stuart J. Youngner, M.D.

Is it ever permissible for physicians to kill their patients? In the Netherlands, the answer is yes. In the United States, it is no. Are the Dutch sliding down a moral slippery slope? Are the Americans compromising the rights and dignity of dying patients? This 3-credit course is a unique opportunity to examine a range of Dutch and American end-of-life policies and practices with special focus on the unique ethical, cultural, religious, and legal contexts in which they developed.

The course will be taught by two professors, Stuart J. Youngner, MD (CWRU) and Gerrit Kimsma, MD (Netherlands).  The Cleveland portion of the course will be taught during the Spring Semester and will consist of four 2-hour sessions. In the Netherlands, teaching methods will include lectures and discussions of actual cases of Euthanasia that have come to the attention of the formal Dutch Review Committees retrospectively.  Here students will form “mock” committees and review these actual cases using the Dutch legal framework.  Similarly, students will act as “mock” consultants, giving opinions on cases prospectively presented by physicians who wish to proceed with euthanasia. 

To gain insight into the unique Dutch attitude toward end-of-life practices, students will learn about Dutch national development and culture through: a guided walking city historic tour and site visits to the Hague (where they will meet with members of the Health Ministry’s Ethics Committee); the red light district (tour led by head of prostitutes’ union) and a shop where cannabis is legally sold. Students will be asked to explore how becoming familiar with Dutch policies toward intractable social problems has challenged their own cultural assumptions.

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