By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
The Local news Denmark reported on October 4, 2023 that Denmark’s Ethics Council advised the Denmark parliament not to legalize euthanasia. The local reported that:
An overwhelming majority of the Danish Council on Ethics have advised the country’s parliament against voting to legalize euthanasia.
Fully sixteen out seventeen members of the committee concluded in a report that it was “in principle impossible to establish proper regulation of euthanasia”, and as a result recommended that the law in Denmark should not be changed to allow people suffering mental or physical distress to receive help to end their own lives.
The ethics council wrote in the full report that
“The very existence of an offer of euthanasia will decisively change our ideas about old age, the coming of death, quality of life and what it means to take others into account,”
“If euthanasia becomes an option, there is too great a risk that it will become an expectation aimed at special groups in society.”
The Local news reported that Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen brought the issue onto the agenda in June when she said that she might be in favour of a law allowing some people to die by euthanasia.
Birgitte Arent Eiriksson was the only member of the Danish Council of Ethics to support euthanasia but she suggested that
euthanasia should only be legalized if there was sufficiently strong regulation in place, and called for further debate on the circumstances in which it should be allowed and how the process should be regulated.
After the report was released, politicians from the three parties in Denmark commented. The Local reported
“The prime minister has expressed her own position, and now we need to have a discussion of the whole issue as this is a subject with a lot of ethical dilemmas,” Flemming Møller Mortensen, health spokesperson for the Social Democrats said, adding that he believed parliament should hold a free vote on the issue with no party lines.
Monika Rubin, health spokesperson for the Moderate Party, said that she wanted to broaden the discussion to also cover shortcomings in the way chronic pain is treated. “This is also about the health care system that we have today. And as it is right now, we need to get better at pain relief,” she said.
Sophie Løhde, Denmark’s health minister, who comes from the Liberal Party, told Ritzau in a written comment that she hoped the debate would lead to a discussion in parliament on a “Danish model for a more dignified death“
Denmark needs to examine Canada’s experience with euthanasia. The Danish Council of Ethics report re-enforces Canada’s experience with euthanasia.
Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and reported with permission.