Since the days of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the hot-button issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide has inspired heated debate.
While many combine the two terms under the same umbrella, there are minor differences between voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide. Euthanasia involves a medical professional administering the lethal doses of medication, while assisted suicide simply involves providing the means for death, like a pill someone can take at home.
Only four U.S. states have enacted the Death With Dignity Act that allows the terminally ill to decide when it is the right time to go.
Earlier this year, Canadian parliament passed a similar bill that made physician-assisted suicides legal. While both American and Canadian laws put an emphasis on making assisted suicide an option for those suffering from a serious, life-threatening illness, officials in the Netherlands are taking things a step further.
In the Netherlands, a newly proposed law would legalize assisted suicide for senior citizens that feel as though they have led full lives but are otherwise perfectly healthy.
The law argues that limiting the means for assisted suicide to just those suffering from terminal illnesses is no longer enough, and that the country’s elders have the right to decide when it is their time to die.
According to a letter read to Dutch Parliament by health minister Edith Schippers, the new law would impact a large subset of elderly people.
She feels the law would extend options to “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.”
This isn’t the first time the Netherlands has made news in regard to assisted suicide and euthanasia. In 2001, they became the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia for patients suffering from incurable diseases.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte hopes to have a complete draft of the proposed law written by the end of 2017. He stresses that doctors and ethicists will be consulted throughout the process.
In 2015, euthanasia accounted for nearly four percent of the total deaths in the Netherlands.
Those opposing the act argue that no limitations have been set as to how young someone could be to carry out this new form of assisted suicide.
“We cannot allow people who are needy or lonely to be talked into dying,” said politician Geert Wilders.
Christian groups have deemed the proposed law a form of state-sanctioned murder, while others believe that it will encourage seniors who feel as though they are burdens to their families to consider ending their lives.
What are your thoughts on the proposed law in the Netherlands or on assisted suicide more generally?
(via The New York Times )
There are solid arguments on both sides, so it’s really hard to know what’s right.
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