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Uncertainty about Dutch euthanasia law’s future

Thursday, August 20, 1970

The newsletter of the Dutch organization, Right To Die-NL (NVVE) reports worries about the future of the law permitting voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in the Netherlands. It says in an editorial: The Queen’s Speech at the opening of the Dutch parliamentary year in September did not sound very promising. Social security will be exchanged drastically for insecurity; medical care is no exception.

On medical/ethical issues the seemingly innocent wording of the Speech could prove to be explosive. “In 2004 the euthanasia and abortion legislation will be re-evaluated,” said the Queen (whose speech is written for her by the Government). “Basically, the existing rules should be observed.” It sounds fair enough, comments the newsletter, but politically dangerous. It is common knowledge that the present cabinet is thoroughly divided on medical/ethical questions. The Christian Democrats of Prime Minister Balkenende are traditionally conservative whereas the coalition partners, the Liberal VVD, and Leftist Democrats D’66 are both strongly in favor of these controversial issues.

Distrust

There is good reason for distrust. Political history is by no means reassuring. In the past, the Christian Democrats have successfully imposed their viewpoints on their opponents. Obviously, they cannot change the law, but they will do their utmost to minimize the effects of unwelcome legislation by tightening the controls and frustrating the search for legal margins. It is to be feared — continues the NVVE newsletter in its editorial — that the coalition parties will submit themselves to the Balkenende evaluation. With two Christian Democrats at crucial posts (Law and Health), euthanasia in future undoubtedly will be kept a tight rein on. THE NVVE is on the alert, it says.

SOURCE: Relevant , magazine of Right to Die-NL (NVVE) Vol. 29, nr. 4,
October 2003.

Text of Dutch law on euthanasia

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