Latvia rejects euthanasia initiative

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Editor’s note. Latvia is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe.

Latvia Saeima

The Latvian public broadcaster LSM.LV reported that, after a long debate, the Latvian Saeima [Parliament] rejected a citizens’ initiative to legalize euthanasia by a vote of 49 to 38 with two abstentions. A citizens’ initiative had collected 10,000 signatures which required the Saeima to debate the “For A Good Death” initiative.

“With this vote members of the parliament supported the decision made by the Mandates, Ethics and Submissions Committee to decline the collective initiative,” the Baltic News Network reported.

“Committee chairperson Janīna Kursīte-Pakule said at the meeting of the Saeima that people have to think what patients’ desire to die means for medical personnel, considering the Hippocratic oath requires doctors to save lives, not end them.

According to her, it is important to check if medical personnel are psychologically prepared to put their patient to death and what psychological consequences doctors and society as a whole can expect in the future.

The BNN report added

Saeima deputy Anda Čakša said that the topic of For a Good Death is a call for help from residents. She believes there are two important aspects – the accessibility of analgesia and palliative care and what are the people’s rights to refuse aggressive health treatment.

According to Čakša, the topic of euthanasia should not be on the table while the issue of palliative care remains unresolved. The Saeima member said her faction [New Unity] will hold a free vote on this.

BNN also reported that Saeima deputy Andris Skride, a cardiologist, 

agreed with Pēteris Buks [a representative of the “For a Good Death” initiative], adding that passive euthanasia in Latvia is not regulated. This is why he believes it is necessary to commence discussions on a legislative level. The deputy said he has prepared a legislative draft, which he plans to submit to one of the parliament’s committees for review.

Skride said that “Working with patients suffering from all kinds of problems has taught him that there may be a need for euthanasia,” according to BNN.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition promotes caring for people, not killing people.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.