A Brief Note On Ending It All

Five years ago, according to The Guardian, the Dutch health and justice ministers sent a letter to parliament saying that people who “have a well-considered opinion that their life is complete, must, under strict and careful criteria, be allowed to finish that life in a manner dignified for them”. The law they proposed would only apply to the elderly (the age of 75 was mentioned). There would be “safety mechanisms, including third-party checks, reviews and supervision”. Presumably, an old person who decided to end it all would be helped to get their affairs in order (e.g. a will would be prepared or reviewed). Further down in the article, it’s suggested that the law would only apply to the terminally ill, regardless of whether they were in pain.

The author Kenan Malik referred to this proposal on his site and called it “calamitous”, without explaining why. I’m sure the nursing home industry would hate it. But speaking as one who has reached the age of three score and ten, I think it’s a great idea. And I don’t see why you’d need to be terminally ill to take advantage of such a law.

A person who’s lived a long life should have the right to make a graceful, well-planned exit when they feel they’ve seen and done enough. You shouldn’t be forced to hang on for dear life if you don’t think life is dear enough to hang onto anymore. It’s your life. You lived it. You should be able to decide when it ends.

According to its official government site (which is in English, at least for me), the Netherlands only allows people to request euthanasia if they are “experiencing unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement”. So that wise proposal from the health and justice ministers wasn’t adopted.

To sum up the official position, therefore, you were brought into this world without any choice in the matter. You should stay here until fate or the government says you can leave.