Netherlands’ assisted suicide proposal targets healthy individuals

The Netherlands’ assisted suicide proposal to allow assisted suicide for healthy individuals over the age of 75 has drawn widespread criticism.

A similar proposal in 2016 also faced opposition.

It offers death rather than social support to people who are lonely and depressed, critics say.

Among the critics is Dr. Gordon Macdonald, head of the UK-based alliance Care Not Killing.

The proposal is “deeply troubling,” he says.

“The slippery slope is real and the Dutch euthanasia law has already been massively extended.”

“To now consider extending the euthanasia law to people who are just tired of life, and may well be depressed, is highly irresponsible, immoral and dangerous.”

Assisted suicide became legal in the Netherlands in 2002 for terminally ill adults who are mentally competent.

Since then, the law has been expanded to encompass:

  • individuals with non-terminal chronic illnesses and disabilities
  • individuals with mental health problems
  • children and seriously ill infants.

People suffering from a mental illness but have no physical impairment are the quickest growing category of euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands.

Other opponents to the assisted suicide proposal argue it preys on lonely and possibly depressed elderly people, who need support and resources rather than offers of suicide.

The KNMG Royal Dutch Medical Association has also spoken out against the proposal, as have both Christian parties in government.

The legislation must be reviewed by the State judicial advisory committee before a potential debate and vote next year.

Critics say assisted safeguards built into the Netherlands’ suicide laws, that are intended to protect the vulnerable, are not always followed.

Earlier this year, a doctor in the Netherlands was cleared of murder after euthanizing a woman with advanced Alzheimer’s who repeatedly said that she did not want to die.

Macdonald says the latest proposal “would further liberalise the most liberal assisted dying laws in the world and risks introducing euthanasia on demand for anybody at any time.”

“No doubt those advocating for this change will try to talk about safeguards, but these are illusionary and temporary,” he says.


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