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New Dutch Law Would Allow Citizens to Choose When They ‘Complete Life’

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Dutch residents who feel that they have “completed life” may be granted the opportunity to choose the time of their own death as the government prepares to draft a law legalizing assisted suicide.

Euthanasia has been legal in the country since 2002, but was strictly for medical patients who were in a state of extreme pain, with no reasonable expectation for a cure.

On Wednesday, officials from the Dutch Justice and Health departments sent parliament a letter saying that citizens who "have a well-considered opinion that their life is complete, must, under strict and careful criteria, be allowed to finish that life in a manner dignified for them," according to the Guardian

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For over a decade requests for euthanasia in the Netherlands have increased by double digits, accounting for 5,516 deaths in 2015. The practice is generally accepted by the Dutch public.

The letter stated that the new legislation, hoped to be completed by the end of 2017, would need "careful guidance and vetting ahead of time with a 'death assistance provider' with a medical background, who has also been given additional training."

The proposal has drawn criticism from faith-based and conservative groups, including the ChristenUnie party, whose leader, Gert-Jan Segers, said the suggestion was "horrifying" and that it "imperils the care for and security of the elderly." 

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Manon Vanderkaa called the proposal "unnecessary and undesirable." Vanderkaa is the head of two Christian senior citizen groups and said that “to help dying, however well regulated, is the wrong answer for a much more profound problem," that faces vulnerable elderly people.

An independent commission recently concluded that expanding the definition of a "completed life" was unnecessary, but the ministers are "of the opinion that a request for help [in dying] from people who suffer unbearably and have no hope without an underlying medical reason can be a legitimate request."

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