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Dutch Push for Demedicalisation of Euthanasia Laws

April 11, 2021 (From Exit International)
The Coöperatie Laatste Wil (CLW), together with thirty Dutch citizens, is taking the Dutch State to court to create the legal right for voluntary, elective dying at a time of one’s choosing that does not require medical sanction or assistance. This Dutch push for the Demedicalisation of Euthanasia Laws is being driven by the concept that the right to die is a fundamental human right that is currently not being observed in the Netherlands. Yet it is a right that is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

The State, therefore, is acting unlawfully towards the plaintiffs and the Cooperative, but also towards all other people. According to Van Wijk, it is currently impossible in the Netherlands to help a loved one to die. The means to take matters into one’s own hands is similarly restricted.

When CLW started to make sodium azide available to their members in 2017, the Dutch government launched an investigation and threatened to ban the group as illegal organisation. CLW later undertook to cease distribution, although reports suggest that the distribution of azide continues covertly to this day. The intention of distributing the powder is to allow members to have something ‘in the cupboard’ should the need in the future arise.

Meawhile the Completed Life Bill remains in the Dutch Parliament. This Bill advocates for the right of people over 75 to be able to request euthanasia even if they are not seriously ill (eg. if they are ‘tired of life’). However, the Completed Life Bill still maintains a role for doctors. CLW argue that doctors and an end-of-life counselors should have no say. “We don’t want to have anything to do with others being about our wish to die. You decide that yourself” they say.

At the current time, 6 out of 10 Dutch people think that they should be able to have control over their end of life choices and that Dutch law should reflect this. CLW also wants people with a death wish under the age of 75 to be able to do so in the safest way possible.

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