The Dutch government is proposing separate legislation opening the door to euthanasia for elderly people who consider their lives ‘completed’. What the papers say.
The Volkskrant’s editorial concludes that the government is making ‘a step in the right direction by taking mercy as its guiding principle’, although, it says, many questions need answering.
A government-appointed committee examined whether the Netherlands needs a separate bill for elderly people who aren’t ill but wish to end their lives, and concluded most are covered by current euthanasia legislation, the paper said.
But ‘that still leaves a ‘growing number of elderly people who independently come to the conclusion that their lives have been completed, without outside pressure,’ the paper writes.
Elsevier calls the proposal ‘a strange ideological hybrid’. ‘It’s a liberal principle that holds people are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves if they want to go on living or not without a doctor telling them yea or nay.
‘Then there’s the typical socialist element of a government building an Orwellian bureaucracy around the concept of “specialist terminal carers” who will be doing what responsible citizens apparently can’t do or fear to do.’
Elsevier objects to this element. ‘Ending lives will be put in the hands of these “specialist terminal carers”, taking a complex and responsible task away from family doctors. Family doctors usually know their patients and can distinguish between a cry for help from a person who is desperately lonely and a true wish to die.
‘Specialist terminal carers will probably be called in late in the process, unaware of the personal history of the person. (..) Then a gentle death might turn into a chilly, state-provided service,’ Elsevier writes.
In its analysis, Trouw wonders what a parliamentary majority is really worth anyway, five months before an election. ‘It takes months to prepare a draft law. (..) The proposal may figure in post-election negotiations and with both the CDA and Christian Union emphatically against it, could even turn out to be a deal breaker,’ the paper writes.
The NRC calls the proposal ‘forward-looking’. Many questions remain unanswered, however, the paper writes. ‘How many people does this concern? When would someone be old enough to ask for this type of euthanasia? The minister hasn’t answered those questions yet,’ the paper writes.
The paper pities the future ‘specialist terminal carers’: they will have to determine if the ‘decision to die is considered, consistent and freely-taken’ and that, the paper writes, will be ‘a very difficult task.’
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