Bioethics News

A Dutch report applies the brakes on euthanasia

Although euthanasia in the Netherlands is often regarded as an unstoppable juggernaut, a government commission has suggested that the brakes be applied.

Activists have been pressing for euthanasia on the basis of “completed life”, that is, for people who have simply lost interest in living, regardless of age or state of health. They also wanted the government to approve a “peaceful pill” which would allow people to kill themselves without the help of a doctor.

However, after a lengthy study, the Schnabel Commission has declared that expanding the boundary of euthanasia is not advisable. It believes that current legislation already provides for cases of “completed life”, which are equivalent to the symptoms of old age, in any case. It is also important for doctors to be involved in the euthanasia process. It is not a job for people without medical qualifications. “In the light of the seriousness and the irrevocability of the decision to end a life, take extreme care is necessary,” says the report.

The Dutch right-to-die association (NVVE) was surprised by the conservatism of the government’s response.

A recent survey of the NVVE among 20 members who have a complete life, showed that they just deliberately have chosen solitude. It is a sign of letting go of life associated with the aging process and the longing for death. It is hard to imagine and accept that there comes a time when life is over. But by not recognizing the demand for care of these people, they are not being taken seriously.

The youth wings of several political parties also protested, with the support of the NVVE.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.