Politicians have suggested that an assisted suicide bill for the over-75s could in future possibly apply to younger people, reports NOS broadcaster.
On television programme Nieuwsuur on Thursday evening, Alexander Pechtold, head of the liberal democratic D66, said he personally believed that this option should be open regardless of age.
Pia Dijkstra, a member of his party has brought a private members bill, proposing to make it legal – with certain safeguards – to arrange the death of anyone over 75 with an ‘intrinsic and consistent’ wish to die.
Last year the government announced that it wanted to introduce such assisted suicide legislation, despite a report by an independent committee of experts recommending against legal euthanasia for those who consider their lives to be completed.
Euthanasia was legalised in the Netherlands in 2002 for those over 12 experiencing ‘hopeless and unbearable suffering’, who want to die and have come to the conclusion independently.
In answer to a question from a 57-year-old man who said he wants to die, Pechtold said the time was not ripe for a broader law, but that he was personally in favour. ‘I think that in a civilization, thoughts about death are for the individual,’ he said. ‘You didn’t ask to be put upon this earth and if you say – with full understanding – that this is enough…That is my personal opinion.’
But, he added, ‘We now have support for this initiative [by Pia Dijkstra]. In order not to disrupt this support, we need to take it step by step.’
Although Christian parties reacted in shock to Pechtold’s personal opinion, Liberal VVD MP Arno Rutte – whose party is currently in government – agreed. He told NOS on Friday: ‘It would be good if it were possible for people who consider their lives to be completed to have a way to end their lives in a dignified manner,’ he said.