Dutch Elections 2017 – When do we need to facilitate someone’s death wish?

At what age do we need to facilitate someone’s death wish? That was the most debated topic in the election campaign in the last couple of days. It became a ‘hot issue’ after Martin Kock (57) asked D66-leader Alexander Pechtold straight  why he had to wait for another 18 years until the government and doctors could legally honor his death wish.

Martin Kock is not physically ill, mentally confused or forced by others. He just wants to die because he finds his life completed. A new D66 law draft only provides the facilitation of someone’s death wish from the age of 75. Pechtold answered the man that he hoped that we could talk about such wishes and maybe even facilitate some of them for people like Martin in the near future even if they’re under the age of 75. And that is when the Christian parties all jumped on to Pechtold. Let’s see what this is all about.

Pechtold talking to Martin Kock (57) who has a death wish

What do the Christian parties say?

The Christian parties obviously don’t agree with Pechtold. Their Christian principles tell them that it’s not for us, human beings, to decide when to take a life. SGP-leader Kees van der Staaij says that ‘every human life is equally valuable’. He thinks that we, as a society, need to try harder to find a solution for these kind of people. We need to listen better and understand their needs as beest as we can. They often refer to the examples where people tried to commit suicide and were glad, in hindsight, that someone else obstructed their attempt and are now happy to be alive. Van der Staaij finds it a too big ask for society, doctors and members of parliament to facilitate something that is so definitive and irreversible.

Van der Staaij about facilitating someone’s death wish

What do the other parties say?

Pechtold and VVD-minister of public health, Edith Schippers, agree with Van der Staaij that we need to do everything that is in our power to help these people to look at their lives in a more positive way. And the law draft of D66 is very careful and transparent when it comes to a point where doctors should help people over the age of 75 with their death wish. But when people, who want to end their life, are not forced and not ill and the other option is jumping in front of a train than we should help these people to end their lives with dignity. Because when they do jump in front of a train it’s also a burden for society, for the machinist and other eye-witnesses who are not professionally equipped to deal with such events.

What about Martin Kock?

Pechtold didn’t know Martin Kock. He didn’t even know that this man would ask him such a heavy question on national television. After talking about his death wish Kock asked Pechtold a right question: Who’s right is it to decide whether my life is completed and whether I can take it or not? Is it mine or is it The Hague who decide whether I can go or not? But The Hague rightly said that it’s too big of a demand for politicians and professionals to facilitate such wishes. Definitely when it’s about young people who have such wishes. Maybe our society isn’t ready for that yet…

The consequence is that when politicians don’t facilitate it, people look for other more shady ways to fulfill their need. Is that what we want as a society? It’s definitely not an easy topic. And there are no easy answers. What we do know is that the election campaign is almost coming to its end with this discussion as the most heavy so far.

People in the Netherlands who think about committing suicide can call the hotline 113 for help.

Jordy Steijn
Jordy Steijn
Jordy Steijn is a native Dutch who loves to write about sports, history and everything in between. Jordy has a particular sense of humor, which is sometimes hard to catch, lame or genious but mainly nothing but mere irony and which you could find in most of his articles (that are not about genocide).


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