Wants To Establish "Right To Die" Legislation In Iceland - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Wants To Establish “Right To Die” Legislation In Iceland

Published January 13, 2017

Photos by
Christian Bickel/Wikimedia Commons

A newly-formed special interest group hopes to advocate for changes to Icelandic laws that would allow for assisted suicide under special circumstances.

Vísir reports that a group called Lífsvirðingar (“Life of Dignity”) will hold a founding meeting later this month. Amongst the aims of the group is to support legislation that would, under a specific set of circumstances, allow for assisted suicide for those who choose to die with dignity. Rob Jonquière, the managing director of the Dutch group Right To Die, is in Iceland presently to assist in this effort.

“Everyone wants to live, no one wants to die,” Rob told reporters. “But circumstances can arise in life where you might want to die rather than live. In Holland, a doctor needs to come to the conclusion, according to law, to give the shot. The only thing that is needed is that the doctor is convinced that the suffering of the patient is unbearable and they can do nothing more to relieve their suffering.”

Holland was, in fact, the first country to legislate the right to die, in 2002. Belgium and Luxembourg followed shortly thereafter, and Switzerland, Germany and Sweden have legalised assisted suicide for some patients.

Critics of assisted suicide have argued that health care workers should not be permitted to end human life, as they contend this is a violation of the Hippocratic oath. Rob responds to this criticism by arguing that assisted suicide is, in fact, in keeping with the promise to “do no harm”.

“It’s a question of perspective,” he said. “You’re not ending a life; you are ending suffering after everything else has been tried [to relieve that suffering].”

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