Published February 7, 2018
A non-partisan coalition comprised of seven Icelandic MPs is currently working on a bill to legalise assisted suicide in Iceland. For the proposal to be valid, the MPs have to collect about 58 letters of reference from organisations or associations that support the bill. So far, according to Fréttablaðið, they’ve received three, including one from the National Association of Senior Citizens.
The Dutch way
In a reference letter written by the organisation, the board said that members of the association expressed different opinions and concerns about euthanasia during a recent conference on the issue. However, people seem to be in favour of a system such as the one provided in The Netherlands where, as president of the association Þórunn Sveinbjarnardóttir writes, people are given a chance to chose euthanasia “in case of serious illnesses that deprives individuals of a normal life.”
The Dutch ‘Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide Act’ states in fact that euthanasia is viable if “a physician holds the conviction that the request by the patient was voluntary and well considered, if he holds the conviction that the patient’s suffering was lasting and unbearable, and if the patient holds the conviction that there was no other reasonable solution for the situation he was in.”
There are many sides to every story
The MPs are currently drafting the proposal taking into consideration different sides of the issue. Conditions and reasons behind assisted suicides will be analysed, as well as how the framework of the law has developed so far in countries where euthanasia is legal. Furthermore, they’ll collect information on similar proposals that are being drafted in countries where euthanasia is still illegal, such as Canada and Germany.
Another issue to be analysed is agency. Who should be in charge of deciding whether euthanasia is a viable option in a given situation? Furthermore, the Icelandic Confederation of Labour encourages the MPs to consider the psychological effects that assisted suicide could have on hospital workers who see themselves as caretakers.
The last reference letter came from Siðmennt, the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association, which encourages the government to collect as much information as possible regarding euthanasia in other countries before drawing a clear legal framework that can easily be used by individuals and doctors in the future.