New Dutch Law Could Allow Assisted Suicide For Healthy Elderly - Dispatch Weekly

October 14, 2016 - Reading time: 3 minutes

The Dutch government wants to adjust the Euthanasia Act to allow those who are well but feel they have lived “full lives,” to end their own lives by assisted suicide.

The majority of MPs supported the plan that will only be allowed under “strict and rigorous criteria,” so that the system is fair and safe.

How Will Legal Euthanasia Work?

Currently the legal requirement for euthanasia are those who are undergoing “unbearable suffering with a medical basis,” but MPs want to change this since elderly or those who do not fit into this specification cannot exhibit autonomy over their lives.

The government want to change the final step where the conditions will be monitored closely, which includes a euthanasia worker with a medical background and special training in counseling, to ask why the person wants to end their life.

Edith Schippers, Minister of Public Health, said, “It should not involve lonely or depressed people. Not for people with problems you can solve in a different way.”

The Prime Demographic: Older People

Edith Schippers said, “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.”

Change in Law Supported By Dutch Government

88 out of 150 parliamentarians are in favor of changing the euthanasia law. This includes Coalition parties VVD and PvdA. However Christian parties are staunchly against such amendments.

Sybrand Buma, party leader, said, “The CDA finds it very careless that the government is ignoring the widely accepted advice of the committee Schnabel to uphold the current law. The CDA is against extending the euthanasia law to include full lives.”

The committee was against a “suicide pill” in case it got into the wrong hands.

Legalized Suicide: the Statistics

  • The Netherlands was the first country to legalize euthanasia for patients who were suffering unbearable pain and who did not have a cure, in 2001.
  • A government agency found that in 2015, euthanasia accounted for 5,516 deaths, or nearly 4 percent of all deaths in the Netherlands.
  • Euthanasia is carried out legally by doctors in only three countries in the world: the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium.
  • The number of Dutch people killed by medical euthanasia has more than doubled in the 10 years since legislation was changed, rising 13 percent last year to 4,188 (, 2013).
  • According to, 42 percent of Dutch people do not have a religion, whilst 28 percent are Roman Catholic, 19 percent Protestant and 11 percent are other (Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jehovah’s Witness and Orthodox).

Is legal euthanasia for healthy older people dangerous or progressive for modern society?

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.