Dutch euthanasia association pleased with German ruling

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The Dutch Association for the Termination of Life on Request, or NVVE, is pleased with the ruling handed down by a German judge regarding the ‘termination of life on request’. Germany's Federal Court of Justice ruled that it is no longer a crime to stop a life-prolonging treatment at the request of a dying person.

NVVE spokesperson Walburg de Jong welcomes the step that has been taken in Germany. “However, this is not yet the possibility to choose euthanasia as we have known it in the Netherlands since 2002”.

Sensitive issue
Euthanasia is an extremely sensitive issue in Germany due to the Nazi programme in which an estimated 200,000 physically and mentally disabled people as well as psychiatric patients were killed. The Nazis, who cynically called these killings ‘euthanasia’, said they carried them out to improve the Arian race.

The NVVE is aware of the sensitive nature of the issue in Germany and Austria. Officials and advisors of the NVVE regularly communicate with sister organisations and other groups in these two countries. Ms de Jong says people from these countries often gain a clearer understanding of the Dutch situation after receiving information from the NVVE:

“Some of the stories appearing in German and Austrian media on the Dutch euthanasia policy are oversimplifications. For instance, that patients here are being given lethal injections against their will. This is obviously not the case”.

Ms de Jong says that oversimplifications are not exclusive to Germany and Austria:

“A conservative British paper recently called the Netherlands the second country to legalise euthanasia – after Nazi Germany. This is so wrong. That comparison doesn’t hold water. You cannot compare Dutch legislation with Nazi programmes. The main elements of the Dutch euthanasia law are voluntariness and that a patient must explicitly demand that their life be ended. You may not agree, but base your criticism on facts”.

The NVVE was founded in 1973 to fight for legalisation of euthanasia in cases of endless and unbearable suffering. Now that their objective has been achieved and the euthanasia law adopted in 2002, the NVVE focuses on providing information about the choices people have regarding the termination of life on request. The NVVE has more than 112,000 members.