Judges in The Hague have rejected efforts by a pro-euthanasia group to legalise helping someone to commit suicide.
The Last Will cooperative and 29 others had argued that current Dutch euthanasia law is too narrow and conflicts with the European convention on human rights, which includes the right to self determination.
The convention, they argued, states that ‘everyone has the right to respect for his private life’ and that ‘there shall be no interference by a public authority’.
But by stopping people from asking for assistance and restricting access to an ‘end of life remedy’, the organisations say the law conflicts the right to a dignified death.
The court, however, ruled that the right of someone to decide for themselves about ending their life is protected in the convention. And that right, the court said, does not go so far as to give someone the right to be helped to end their life.
The campaign group said in a reaction that it was disappointed in the ruling. ‘More and more people are thinking about how to bring their lives to a dignified end,’ spokesman Frits Spangenberg told Dutch News. ‘The struggle goes on.’
The organisation has three months to decide whether or not to appeal.
Not a crime
It is not a criminal offence to commit suicide in the Netherlands but it is illegal to help someone to do so by, for example, providing them with the necessary drugs. The only exception to this is covered by the Dutch law on euthanasia.
It states that euthanasia may only be carried out if two doctors certify that a patient is suffering unbearably and the case meets five other key criteria.
This February, a 74-year-old man from Castricum was arrested as part of an investigation into the sale of so-called suicide powder and is thought to have had a role in at least four deaths.
The powder was first presented as a humane way of committing suicide by the CLW in 2017. The cooperative sold it via meetings at members’ homes but stopped this in 2021 after several people were arrested, including the organisation’s chairman.
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