A narrow majority of the Dutch support the introduction of assisted suicide for people who feel their life is at an end, even though they are physically healthy, according to a representative survey of 3,600 people by national statistics agency CBS.
In total, 55% said they believed people who are tired of life should be able to get help to die, while 33% said this should not be an option.
A third of those who backed assisted suicide said they favoured the introduction of a lower age limit, while half said age should not play a role at all.
Euthanasia continues to have widespread support in the Netherlands, with 87% backing the practice in some circumstances. Muslims and strict Protestants are least likely to support any form of euthanasia, but even among them there is a majority support for the principle.
Eight in 10 people also support euthanasia for people with severe dementia, if they had made their wishes plain before they became ill. Some 74% backed euthanasia for people with severe psychiatric problems and 75% for children with terminal illnesses.
The Liberal democratic party is drawing up its own legislation which would make it possible for the over-75s who consider their life is at an end to be helped to die and aims to present the measure to parliament early next year.
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.
Euthanasia currently accounts for around 4% of Dutch deaths, mostly involving cancer patients.
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