The Dutch Government on Thursday said people who feel their life had been completed should be given the legal right to assisted suicide. The Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, Edith Schippers and Justice Minister Ard van de Steur, said this in a letter addressed to the parliament in response to a report by an independent committee of experts made public last February. In the letter, the ministers stated that “people who believe that their life has been completed shall, under strict and careful criteria, be enabled to end their life in dignity. They indicated that the government wanted to consult with different care providers to develop a new law to shape this principle. They added that “this is about a system in addition to and alongside with the current euthanasia system.”
The report, however, concluded that people who might not be suffering from illness but feel their lives have been completed should not have the right to assisted suicide. It stated that the current euthanasia law is functioning well and that there is room within the euthanasia that is not used but it is considered undesirable to expand the existing legal possibilities for assisted suicide.
“But, the government believes that such a request for help from people who have unbearable and hopeless suffering without medical basis, can be a legitimate request,” said Dutch ministry.
The government will seek a solution to ensure that assisted suicide for completed life would be carefully checked and balanced without abuse,’’ it added.
Under the current Dutch law, precisely the “Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide Act” which took effect on April 1, 2002, euthanasia is only legal in cases of hopeless and unbearable suffering without prospect of improvement.
In practice it is limited to those suffering from serious medical conditions, and it must be done by doctors who must follow strict procedures. In the past decade, several civil organisations and liberal parties have been calling to expand assisted suicide to people who no longer wish to live but are turned down for euthanasia. In its February report, the independent committee argued that more should be done to make sure people are not tired of living by for example, doing more to eradicate loneliness.