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Tired of life? Group calls for assisted suicide

Tuesday 09 February 2010

A group of older Dutch academics and politicians have launched a petition in support of assisted suicide for the over-70s.

They hope to attract over 40,000 signatures, enough to get the issue debated in parliament under citizens' initiative legislation.

Under Dutch law, euthanasia can only be practised if the patient is suffering 'unbearable pain'. The doctor must be convinced the patient is making an informed choice and a second doctor must also give his or her opinion.

But the new lobby group say people aged over 70 who are tired of life should also have the right to professional help in ending it.


The group says the euthanasia would be carried out by specially trained nurses, psychologists or other professionals who would go through a careful process to make sure there is no pressure on the elderly person.

In an interview with the NRC, former minister and feminist Hédy d’Ancona (72) said the right to choose one’s time of death is a natural extension of her lifelong battle for emancipation.

And neurologist Dick Swaab said death should be straightforward. ' Throughout the animal kingdom, individuals are simply replaced, rather than patched up endlessly,' the NRC quoted him as saying.

Lawyer Eugène Sutorius says in the Volkskrant there is no reason to assume assisted suicide for the elderly would be abused. 'People said it would happen with the current euthanasia law, but it has not happened,' he said.

Should the elderly have the right to assisted suicide? Take part in our poll

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

ja! Let's get rid of all those old people! We will have "Sleepshops" in every city. Run Logan, Run!

By Daan | 9 February 2010 4:08 PM

To die with dignity is the right of every human being. This is not cart blanche that anyone over 70, healthy but just tired of life should be given an exit pill.

By tvisser | 9 February 2010 4:11 PM

Where does this end? First unwanted unborn babes (they are not given a choice), then people in pain, now over 70's who are 'tired of life', what next...?
Life is sacred, the day will come when justification will be sought to "assist" suicide for the unemployed, or may be a one-off super dose of heroin for addicts. This is a slippery slope.


By AC | 9 February 2010 4:20 PM


I condemn this from the depth of my heart that some individuals/groups are working on it!!

Why can't we confess that 'individualism' in our societies is the reason of loneliness,ignorance.The people above 70 deserves our attention and support instead of expecting them to suicide!!

For heaven's sake stop this nonsense and struggle for a society who shares the pain and sufferings of the fellow human beings.

By Khalid Ahmed Chaudry | 9 February 2010 5:04 PM

Well, Dr Els Borst herself has said that the euthanasia law has had hugely negative impact - and she was the very one who saw the euthanasia law through! I think this would certainly open up all kinds of pressures on the elderly. Any legislation of this kind sends out a message to the elderly that actually their lives might be better off not lived. Besides - why should being over 70 mean someone should want to end their life any more than any other age?? If it does turn out that there really are 4,000 people aged 70 who are tired of life, that says to me that we should invest more time into petitions to improve the social and active areas of the elderly community and NOT to say this means we should make it acceptable practice to help kill them off!!

By Jenny | 9 February 2010 5:08 PM

this is insane
if these people are not happy living their lives its the government & society duty to make them happy and not help them to end thier lifes
this suggestion is a crime by every means

By mahitab | 9 February 2010 5:13 PM

Tired of life or just feeling our society doesn't put any worth in the elderly? We are strongly influenced by media and fashion. Youth is praised and revered. If the elderly were treated the same maybe getting old wouldn't have such a stigma and life would feel more worth while. It worries me what sort of message this gives to the youth and elderly alike?
I wonder how I would feel if one of my parents decided they were too old and life had become tiring ,so decided to die. What about those left behind with this very negative idea?

By charlotte Lyon | 9 February 2010 6:15 PM

There is of course a real risk of abuse, but I believe that in the long term, it's going to be common practice. The economy is developing in such a way that a) people's lives are ever more appreciated in terms of money (it's already happening when faced with questions of getting/raising children), and b) people get obsolete at ever earlier ages, not able and willing to keep up with the trends of the day. They will not be able to pay for an extended period of retirement, nor will the government. The only way out is to choose death.
This is not a funny picture, it's actually going to be very grim, but I don't see how it could be avoided, unless, of course, economic trends start to change, or unless we would be able to adopt another attitude towards work and life.

By Hans | 9 February 2010 6:38 PM

Is this the government's way of cutting down on pensions?

By Ester | 9 February 2010 6:39 PM

I think 70 is too high an agae to have the right to die. 60 or 65 is better.
I want to go any time, today even. My life is great, wonderful, the physical pains I have are under control, the mind suffers from impotence because the disgusting behavior of the human race. I am ready to go and if the law will help, so much the better.

By Alex | 9 February 2010 7:36 PM

I whole heartedly support this initiative .
There is no point in living if the quality of line is gone .
Of course safeguardes need to be put in place to ensure no pressure is applied by family

By maryke lind | 9 February 2010 7:53 PM

Being born in Holland gives me a reason to keep informed re the happenings in holland . I am said to say that I am very dissapointed with what is happening . A culture that has no respect for life starting with the unborn and reaching now for the elderly is a sure way of destroying oneselves . When I hear that the churches are emptying and secularism is the new religion I really fear for you. Holland is not the only country in this predicament but it could be the first to set an example for the rest of the world . Please consider the long term affects of this lifestyle and vow to change. I and many emmigrants here in Canada will be watching and praying for our homeland.

By Martien Bekkers | 9 February 2010 9:42 PM

No, Life is sacred

By CASTERMANS Marcel | 9 February 2010 9:57 PM

No one has the right to take his own or another person's life. Life was given by God and can only be taken by God.We are not autonomous creatures, who can do whatever we feel like.The 5th commandment says: Thou shall not kill!

By Bill Onstein | 9 February 2010 9:57 PM

only God is the master of life -

By Renauld Roy | 9 February 2010 10:08 PM

It would be choice to vote "no" to assisted suidide for people over the age of 70. It would be no for any age. God gives only and only He should take life

By Winnie Odo | 9 February 2010 10:26 PM

Dear Sirs,
I never knew one of my great-uncles because he killed himself after years of depression; my grandmother spoke of suicide while depressed; I have a friend who has attempted suicide at least twice. In light of my experiences of suicide and caring for elderly relatives, I believe suicide is a terrible moral evil, and it should never be made a 'right' in law, nor should assisting it be allowed by law.
All kind regards.
In defence of life,
William Jolliffe

By William Jolliffe | 9 February 2010 10:30 PM

When people suggest an age for which killing yourself or having a kind soul help you, it makes me wonder, why that age? Why not 60 or 50 or 20 or 10 or 2? Why not selectively cull our population like farmers do to improve their herd and get rid of those with health issues, or too fat or too lazy or the wrong colour? And who would have the right to make these life taking decisions - those in power? Want an example of someone who tried all this? Hitler comes easily to mind. And tribal genocides? Or even the American proposed new health plan advocates killing off elderly people too poor too pay. Allowing choices by one group of when to die is like greasing a very steep slope - who will be next and more important - who will be given the power to choose to kill me or you?

By NJ Taylor | 9 February 2010 10:51 PM

NO! to both questions.
This is plain murder!

By Gilberte Painchaud | 9 February 2010 10:54 PM

I am 74 years old and in fairly good health,I have seen many of my friends and family members die with long sufferen pain,Ido not wish to die that way,my aunt in holland had euthanasian,i would like that also when the time comes.

By Bob V.....USA | 9 February 2010 11:02 PM

What will happen is that depressed people and people who fear (unjustly) that they will be a burden to their loved ones will end up choosing suicide. This is not something we should be helping or condoning.

By X | 10 February 2010 12:32 AM

Listen up all of you who are so interested in assisted suicide, if that is your wish please dont wait for assistance but feel free to jump off a cliff like Lemmings and if you wish others to follow your lead tough for you not interested and suspect if you people wanted your family around no one would be discussing suicide. It is for your benefit and not that of the sick and dying , so just buzz off and find another cause. Not interested in you people or my own making life lenght decisions for me and feel sure the majority of this world shares my , not your sentiments.

By Valerie Edwards | 10 February 2010 1:09 AM

assisted suicide can and will be abused especially by governments to rid of an aging population by a cheap way. I rather see that homes are build for the terminally sick so they have peace in their last hours. Yes, I do agree that heroic efforts to save a life of a person whose life will never be again wholesome its life should be halted but only then on the request of family to prevent more suffering.

By Ron Voorhoeve | 10 February 2010 1:19 AM

No, the elderly should not have the right to assisted suicide. They should have full access to programs that help them reclaim a sense of meaning to their lives. Anyone who wants to kill themselves has lost a deep sense of the meaning in their life and needs help to find its beauty again. There are many wonderful things the elderly can give to the youth of the world. We need their wisdom and their perspectives. It is a youth oriented culture that ignores the elderly and their contributions to society. We need to encourage them to share their insights, not languish in depression.

Patrick O'Connor
London, Ontario, Canada

By Patrick O'Connor | 10 February 2010 1:28 AM

I vote NO, very definitely

By C.T Strehlke | 10 February 2010 1:37 AM

Life is sacred & a gift from God. It should not be taken at will.

By Dr B Phillips | 10 February 2010 2:22 AM

I don't agree with this groups idea about assisted suicide. Why should it make a difference if an elderly person decided to commit suicide and yet a person who is younger is treated by being placed in a psychiatric ward. Is assisted suicide really helping the person? I don't think so.

By Carla | 10 February 2010 3:41 AM

No, to assisted suicide. who would want murder on their conscience? Life is God's to give and take. Suffering is part of life as Jesus has showed us. Be brave.

By marilu naval | 10 February 2010 4:44 AM

Why can't these delusioned self congratulatory educated people be so totaly unreal as not to recognise the vast gap from animals to man, the evidence is so great that it can be said with certanty tha mankind is indeed made in the immage of God although in a seriously fallen state. This has serious implications for future events.

By Edward Asselstine | 10 February 2010 4:52 AM

I am absolutely opposed to assisted suicide and under no condition's, who are human beings to play God the Creator who gives life and is the only one to decide when life here on this earth should end, this is according to the Bible which is the highest authority from God

By jpauline marshall | 10 February 2010 5:34 AM

The Dutch say that there are far too many people in Netherlands.

"Holland is FULL!", I hear many a crying.

It's now getting even easier to die in Holland.

I have the Right to Die, in poverty, and in horrific pain, on the streets of Holland but it is almost impossible to get low cost simple basic medical and social care help to stay alive and well.

By Gerard | 10 February 2010 7:32 AM

The question is, why the seniors in a society that claims to have the best diosability legislation in the Europe, had to think of assisted suicide at this particular stage of civilisation? What sort of civilisation have we all made then? Professionals have their professional interest in this respect and they will start their propaganda in a so-called smart 'scientific' language. I can see politicians are also taking a stand. To me, this is the going to be the beginning of another sad episode of the history, which, I'm sure, people of the world would not accept anymore! People have not forgotten the meaning of life. Over 70 is not something unfit to live on this beautiful earth. If any of them feel so, then we, the so-called fit-to-live people are responsible, who made this planet an ugly place for them!

By Mahbub Kabir | 10 February 2010 8:17 AM

As an atheist, I do not play into the “god card”. But what I do resent is how society treats elderly people. I once knew of an elderly lady who was put into one of these nursing homes. You go in, they look modern, clean…nice, until you see what goes on behind the scenes. Old people being strapped to beds, inadequate food, bed sores. This is no way of life. It is a torture. The lady who was sent here went way down hill after she arrived. Her family did their best to keep her alive as they received some kind of funds as executors of her estate. With each visit making sure she ate her bread with jelly.

Sound like quality of life? I’m sure this lady never thought of assisted suicide and was not even given the chance to voice an opinion. She wasted away and died.

These assisted suicide schemes are just a cop out. If people were helped to live a decent life to the end of their natural days it wouldn’t be necessary. This is just one issue of a long list of how today’s society is failing.

Having said this, a person still has the right to die with dignity if it is their mindful wish.

By AW | 10 February 2010 8:39 AM

Liberties are good but noone should not have the liberty of living or killing.Assisted suicide is a crime you are ending a life and kill all universe by this way.

By sera | 10 February 2010 9:02 AM

I do not see what age has to do with the argument. The fact that you have to reach the stage of being in appalling pain frankly scares me. If I have a disease that is going to lead to appalling pain or a complete loss of any kind of quality of life then surely I should be the one to say "I've had enough" and not down to others to decide that I should struggle on because it is their belief that I should.

Certainly their must be checks to make sure that consent was given otherwise abuse will arise. I can indeed imagine a lonely elderly parent being bullied by their children and that would be a tragedy.

By Nick | 10 February 2010 9:07 AM

BIG NO, BIGGER NO, BIGGEST NO, the elderly should not have the right to assisted suicide. When would mankind cherish life? We have to stop somewhere. I think is now. unborn babies, sick, etc. so what next...

By kwabena | 10 February 2010 9:13 AM

Question: What makes the netherlands one of the most self acclaimed happy countries (both on adults and teeneagers - see past articles in this very website. It is also one of the best coutries to raise children, again from this website. thanks dutchnews for keeping us informed) but apparently not so happy for elderly people ? I think the answer might bring the solution along...

By Marcio | 10 February 2010 9:18 AM

First: Let's keep God out of the this equation. Second: Has anyone saying "NO" actually ever talked to people wanting to die? Or try to emphasize / understand the reasons for unbearable suffering? I am sure they never visited old people homes and saw what the real situation is. If they had, they would have to ask themselves whether they themselves would want to go on living in these circumstances. Their answsers might be more balanced and mature than a simple oh no! Anyway, this question should be tabled, it is long overdue!

By Tieneke Wolfert | 10 February 2010 10:24 AM

God is the provider butalso the taker of life. All else is murder. Peter.
No vote in either case.

By Peter Hoogendam | 10 February 2010 12:28 PM

As one who does not need religious myths to function I think this is an acceptable way for a human to end a life of suffering. It is the relig-o-bots who oppose euthanasia. I guess you would rather have a human suffering for years so YOU can feel better? That is quite imperialistic of you! I see these religious groups have no problem in killing other living creatures or humans in war. I am glad I never went through the brainwashing that occurs in religious cults from reading their demented views on the real world.

By Paul Martin | 10 February 2010 12:28 PM

Euthanasia is a form of eugenics. Its about population reduction. Please read about Margaret Sangers Eugenics programs in the Netherlands. That should give you an idea of what is going on. She invented birth control and sterilization. Abortion is also from Eugenics. It is important that people are informed of who the Eugenicists are and what they want to do. Please read the book "The case for birth control" by Margerate Sanger.

By Jp | 10 February 2010 2:34 PM

Eugène Sutorius is wrong when he says there have been no abuses of the current system. What began as a movement to stop untreatable pain has become a reflexive response to a range of ills--social as well as medical--that would otherwise not be deadly. Where people proclaim they are "tired of life" they are talking about the deficits of a life that is physically or socially restricted. Before arguing for killing it would be saner to argue for the medical, psychological, and social assistance that will make life worth living for these patients.

By Prof. Tom Koch | 10 February 2010 3:14 PM

Life is too important and we all should think of others with kindness and treat each other as special even our enemies. Maybe then people wouldn't feel so lost.

By Perley Peters | 10 February 2010 3:43 PM

No to ending life at any age! God is the author of life-shame on those who do not put their trust and rely on Jesus Christ!

By Arline Caron | 10 February 2010 3:45 PM

If you really want to end your life, you'll find a way to do it. This is just a cry for help from the people who think they are tired of living, and a way to cull the planet of those no longer deemed useful to society. I think it's horrific that you can take someone else's life in NL and get a relatively soft penalty for it. However, if you can justify wanting to end your own life, the state will help you. I lived in NL for a while, and I never could figure out the values system there, which is one reason why I left.

By Tim | 10 February 2010 4:21 PM

No way, my father committed suicide and it was the most selfish act he did, we the living are still suffering from his lost. To live with pain like my mother did is heoric and a great example plus the peace the family had

By jeannette zipes | 10 February 2010 5:45 PM

Nobody has the right to kill another person.

By Pauline Grondin | 10 February 2010 8:13 PM

No, no, no, this reminds me of "Logan's Run".

By imogen Strike | 10 February 2010 8:36 PM

Quite apart from any question of morality, good palliative care should mean that there is no need for euthanasia.

By Georgina Williams | 10 February 2010 8:46 PM

My elderly mother has had two major strokes in the last 8 years. These have severly diminished her capacity to function normaly. Does she get tired of life? Certainly! She never wished to have this happen. Who would? But it did and it has been the most amazing experience for all of us. Dad has been able to take care of mom at home. This wonderful man has been a daily example of patience and love in the way he cares for our mom. There is nothing more important to him than this. And it has been my GREATEST PRIVILEDGE to be able to help him with this monumental task. As for mom, she is still able to realize that she is surrounded by those who love her and would never abandon her or despair of their situation. Life is a circle. We are born helpless and often end the same way. In between, you do your best to take care of those who need it. When all is said and done, what you do for others and how you treat them is the only thing that will really matter. If this law is enacted, two great injustices will occur: the robbing of life and the robbing of opportunity for others to do the most important thing they will ever have the priviledge to do.

By Laura Kinyon | 10 February 2010 8:54 PM

To: Tieneke Wolfert
You are so very condescending in attitude to state that those who say NO haven't worked with people who suffer. You may be amazed that the real caregivers do not believe in ending a problem, they just care for the people. And to remember that God IS in the equation, many religious persons devote themselves to the caring of the elderly and sick, you need to open your eyes. Just one example; Mother Theresa; I'm sure you would have heard of her? There are thousands like her.

And Paul Martin;
It wasn't a religious group that invaded Iraq, or Afghanistan, your accusation is putrid. Christianity is pacifist; turn the other cheek is the message, yes unfortunately there are zealots who act contrary, and wrongly use religion as an excuse and iterpret the Bible or Quran to suit their endeavour, but that is human failing.
Nobody human created life, it is a miracle of God's work, therefore nobody has the right to end that life.
Suffering of the aged is because of the breakdown of the family and values, the rise of individualism, the "I, me, myself" syndrome. Denying God is just one symptom.

By AC | 10 February 2010 9:11 PM

No, totally against Euthanasia, it is plain murder by the person doing it and suicide by the person accepting it. Pain today can be controlled in a very efficient manner and most hospitals have a good decent palliative care unit. I have had many family members who died of cancer after many months if not years of treatments and who did not wish their life to be taken from then. They died in dignity and lived their lives to the fullest and the family members who cared for them including myself had opportunities to surpass ourselves in helping them.

By Robert L. Robinson | 10 February 2010 9:11 PM

I am wondering what has become of sane people; are they really thinking about what they are suggesting. To kill someone because they are not producing as much as they were; are we talking about people or chickens? A person is made in the image of God; how could you suggest disposing of them like a used diaper? Older people can give much insight to younger ones and advice as they have lived and are able to give advice to those who have not gone through the same things. To give an age whereby a person can die, is absolutely crazy, insane really. Each person is valuable in the eyes of God and should be in our eyes as well. This suggestion is absolutely crazy.
Each person has a right to live and until God choses to take them, they should be content to remain. When really suffering there are medications to help them until they pass on but to make oneself god is absolutely crazy.

By Gloria Peachey | 10 February 2010 10:30 PM

Slippery slope? What slippery slope? I don't see a slippery slope anywhere....

By Marlon | 10 February 2010 10:33 PM

The slippery slope is in one dirention:life has become cheap and 'playing God"is so easy.
NO to both questions.

By Peter Sutton | 10 February 2010 11:22 PM

Bottom Line is: We have no right to play God.
Seems to me that was Lucifers mistake in the biblical account. We all know how that story ended.

By MARIE STRICKLER | 11 February 2010 4:20 AM

God is n charge from WOMB to TOMB...these people must keep out of his business ... He needs no help.. but they do

By Joy Malcolm | 11 February 2010 3:15 PM

Most of it has been said against Assisted Suicide. I would agree most strongly to keep assisted suicide illegal for any age or reason.To legalise it would open it to abuse no matter what safeguards are put in place. When one is dead there is no hope.

By Sue Jamieson | 11 February 2010 5:18 PM

A great deal of moral pressure can be brought to bear on elderly and infirm people to commit suicide so as not to be a burden to others. With people now living for 3 or 4 decades after their retirement from work, their children are left without any inheritance from parents. With fewer children being born there will be fewer taxpayers to support health care for the very old. Calls for "death with dignity" will become louder when all of us feel the "burden" of supporting the older generations. The supposedly modest proposal of assisted suicide for those who want it, will, under greater financial and social pressure, lead to compulsory death for those who, in the view of the state, have already received their alloted ration of limited health care resources. There are groups out there who advocate compulsory death for everyone at age 80, citing environmental, economic and "death with dignity" arguments. This whole cold and horrid trend must be vigorously resisted, and the inherent dignity and value of all human life affirmed. That is the only healthy starting point for a human civilization.

By Ted Kiernan | 11 February 2010 6:22 PM

This is immoral and dangerous. So what about people under this age? What about people who suffer life long mental illnesses? Depression? is mental pain that much less worth living than living with phsical pain? This idea should be shot down as quick as possible and the MP's involved should be put on trial for inciting death way quicker than Mr. Wilders should be on trial for inciting hatred.

By davis brock | 12 February 2010 11:34 AM

I vote against euthanasia not just because I feel it is wrong, but for two other reasons: One, because it is a cop-out from instituting programs that can help the elderly and their care-givers to make the last years of life productive and bearable, and two, because I don't know who is going to be the administrator and arbitor of such programs. Experience with bureaucrats both in government and health services, hardly makes me feel secure about having them adminster such services.
The elderly help us to realize our mortality, and often come to terms with it, with love and respect, and yes, dignity.

By Annie Boulanger | 12 February 2010 8:42 PM

I am useful, very active and 68 this year! 2 years to go, particularly as I use a wheelchair and rely on Personal Assistants for everything except thinking and using my computer to type this! The Dutch have some lovely art, inspired artists and engineers but their slant on Christianity gave apartheid to South Afrika. I'm not really surprised that the Dutch schizophrenia has adopted this highly dangerous euthanasia extension, but does Britain have to follow? So I say 'No'.

By Anthea Penfold | 12 February 2010 11:39 PM

I am against any all euthanasia because it is wrong and against God's commandments to love one another. No Doctor or person has the right to take anothers life created by God. Jesus has already won the fight life is the victor. Eileen Meunier

By eileen meunier | 14 February 2010 3:10 AM

What the Germans did by force in World War 2 the Dutch are going to achieve by persuasion, but the end result will be the same - a debasing of the value of human life and murder thinly disguised to rob vulnerable people of their right to exist. Things that start off as voluntary frequently end up being compulsory. Shades of the Holocaust! Holland step back out of the shadows, while you still can and don't criticise Muslim suicide bombers in one breath and then go and advise some elderly citizen to take their own life in the next!

By Kathryn Jones | 14 February 2010 4:01 AM

living in pain is no way of living,unable to be self sufficient, myself at 47 have been fighting pain all my life i would like the choice to live or die my life is mine and no one else so YES!!!

By robert prevost | 16 February 2010 2:37 AM

@ Maryke Lind (February 9). Your post requires challenging. Euthanasia for the terminally in unbearable pain is an arguable proposition. However advocating killing the over 70s because they might be tired of life is something else entirely.It is totally against God's law and amounts to a criminal act. Such a notion is utterly wrong, repugnant and debases human life.

By Deliah | 24 March 2010 4:43 AM

Professionals to "make sure there is no pressure". What a joke! Ask 5 women who've had an abortion if they felt pressured by the professionals involved, and I bet at least 4/5 will say they did. It's a business, just as euthansia. "How much money can I get out of this death?" That may not be the conscious thoughts of these "professionals", but it all comes down to the bottom line.

By Charlotte | 5 May 2010 3:19 PM

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