Although assisted suicide is legal in the Netherlands for people who suffer unbearable physical pain, a group of senior activists pleads for the freedom of choosing death for anyone above 70.
Most of the information concerning this discussion can only be found in Dutch sources, but the English language site Dutch News has an article of February 14th and one from February 9th that deal with this topic, and especially with the new group of activists called Uit Vrije WIl, which translates as Of Free Will and/or In self-determination.
According to Dutch law, any group able to collect more than 40,000 signatures for a given petition can demand that the topic of their choice will be debated in parliament. The group who began public activity only last week, consists of people from all walks of life, though it certainly helps that there are locally famous names on the list - from ex-politicians to comedians.
Among the people well known in the Netherlands - and Europe - are Jan Terlouw, Frits Bolkestein, Paul van Vliet, Mies Bouwman and Hedy d'Ancona. The latter, 72-years-old former minister and life-long feminist, clearly stated that the right to choose one’s time and manner of death is a natural right to self-determination people should have in a democracy, and that she regards this new legal battle as a natural extension of her lifelong strife for emancipation.
Dutch neurologist Dick Swaab said that death should be approached more straightforward than we do now. In his own words: "Throughout the animal kingdom, individuals are simply replaced, rather than patched up endlessly."
Although getting that many votes in less than one week is a good result and shows that many Dutch are free thinkers, the hurdles to be taken before this new concept could turn into law are steep ones. First, two of three parties in the present government are of a clearly Christian orientation, and then there's the fact that a recent poll showed that 65 percent of those questioned adhere to ancients believes according to which only the great patriarch in the sky may choose who is to live and to die - and when.