Bioethics News

Dutch will probably legalise assisted dying for people tired of living

The Dutch government plans to create a new end-of-life law for elderly people who are tired of living. Health Minister Edith Schippers told Parliament that a new kind of assisted suicide is needed for people who are not terminally ill or suffering, but who want to die (link to letter to Parliament, in Dutch).

She said that the proposed law would come into effect next year. It would cater for “older people who do not have the possibility to continue life in a meaningful way, who are struggling with the loss of independence and reduced mobility, and who have a sense of loneliness, partly because of the loss of loved ones, and who are burdened by general fatigue, deterioration and loss of personal dignity.”

The process will be thoroughly documented and carefully organized, Ms Schippers told a TV prorgram. “It should not involve lonely or depressed people. Not for people with problems you can solve in a different way.” She said that life must be protected, but some people wake up every morning disappointed that they did not die in their sleep.

The government’s decision ignores an independent committee of experts who said earlier this year that a “completed life” should not make people eligible for euthanasia (link here in Dutch). A committee headed by a well-known sociologist, Paul Schnabel, was established after the acquittal of a man who helped his 99-year-old mother to die because she thought that her life was at an end.

New legislation will break new ground for end-of-life laws.

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.