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.
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