Monday 13 July 2020

D66 to press ahead with bill to support assisted suicide for ‘completed lives’

Photo: Jan Dijkstra via Wikimedia Commons

The Liberal democratic party is drawing up its own legislation which would make it possible for the elderly who consider their life is at an end to be helped to die. D66 parliamentarian Pia Dijkstra told the AD in an interview that she plans to introduce a draft bill early next year.

Ministers are currently looking into the options for assisted suicide for people who are ‘tired of life’ but, says Dijkstra, health minister Hugo de Jonge is not working quickly enough.

‘The minister obviously senses the urgency less than I do,’ she said. ‘The very elderly who have had enough should be able to die when they choose.’

In June the government launched a new campaign to encourage people to think more about the end of their lives – well before they reach them.

The website About Palliative Care brings together all sorts of information about care options for later life and how to talk with family and friends about your wishes.

Although it links to a government website giving more information about advanced care directives – which can be used to give instructions such as ‘do not resuscitate’ orders and euthanasia wishes in cases such as advancing dementia – the website does not dwell much on euthanasia itself.

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. Two doctors have to agree that the conditions have been met.

Pill

In 2015, the Dutch voluntary euthanasia society relaunched its campaign to have a pill made available to elderly people who wish to end their lives.

The idea for such a pill was first launched at the beginning of the 1990s by senior judge and euthanasia campaigner Huib Drion and became known as ‘Drion’s pill’. He said the pill should be issued free of charge to everyone over the age of 70 but his initiative foundered on medical, ethical and legal grounds.

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