10:27 GMT04 March 2021
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    Earlier this week, a citizens' initiative to legalize euthanasia kicked off in Finland after protracted debates. The campaign to gather public support includes former Finnish MPs, as well as a number of high-profile activists.

     

    The Finnish petition to rewrite current medical procedures to allow for "active death help" in the Nordic country rests upon the people's right to a painless death. The list of first signers include such heavyweights as former National Coalition Party MP and ex-Finance Minister Iiro Viinanen, former head of the Bank of Finland Sirkka Hämäläinen, former editor-in-chief of Finland's biggest daily Helsingin Sanomat Janne Virkkunen, as well as a number of scholars, politicians and authors, Finnish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet reported.

    According to Hämäläinen, doctors are tasked with maintaining as dignified a life as possible for as long as possible. However, the option of a more merciful death should be included, Finnish financier said.

    According to Iiro Viinanen, who admitted his own struggle with Parkinson's disease, people suffering from excruciating pain should have the right to end their lives, if they have nothing else to look forward to other than pain and suffering.

    Previous polls indicate that over 85 percent of Finns support the idea of euthanasia, including a majority of nurses and more than half of doctors. Nevertheless, the medical camp is far from unanimous in its support of the pro-euthanasia initiative, Finnish national broadcaster Yle reported.

    A survey by pollster Duodecim and the Finnish Medical Association found that one third of Finnish doctors would help a critically ill patient to commit suicide, if it were legal. A roughly equal percentage of Finnish doctors believe that colleagues who provide euthanasia should be punished, Finnish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet reported.

    Heikki Pälve, the head of the Finnish Medical Association, believes that the majority of palliative care doctors working with patients with terminate illnesses oppose euthanasia.

    "For doctors, these are two contradictory values. On the one hand there is the desire to ease suffering, and on the other the duty to preserve life," Pälve noted.

    At present, euthanasia is only legal in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg.

    Palve rejected the very idea of comparing Finland with the Netherlands, claiming that the gap between the two societies is far too wide.

    "In the Netherlands, citizens have very different rights. There you can go into a coffee shop and get stoned on substances that are considered drugs, so it is a completely different society," Pälve concluded.

    So far, the Finnish initiative for a "happy death" has gathered over 25,000 signatures in only several days. By Finnish law, initiatives that gather over 50,000 signatures automatically qualify for consideration in parliament.

    According to a 2015 survey by Yle, 86 percent of Finnish MPs, constituting a majority of all parties bar the Christian Democrats would gladly legalize euthanasia. 

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    Tags:
    petition, euthanasia, Yle, Scandinavia, Finland
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