On Thursday 8 March, the House of Representatives held a plenary session on the citizen’s initiative ‘Completed life’. The citizen’s initiative was submitted by a group called Out of Free Will. It demands the right for all Dutch people over 70, who feel tired of life, to have the right to professional help in ending their life.
Euthanasia and assistance in suicide are no longer punishable in the Netherlands since 2002. However, strict rules have been laid down in the Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide Act, the Euthanasia Act. Euthanasia is only legal in cases of ‘hopeless and unbearable suffering’. This means that in practice euthanasia is limited to those suffering from serious medical conditions and in considerable pain.
A citizen’s initiative is an elaborated proposal, for instance to improve the environment, the educational system or public transport. Or to simplify a rule or even do away with it. For a proposal to be accepted for consideration you need to gather signatures from at least 40,000 people supporting it.
A citizen’s initiative has to meet the following requirements:
- The proposal has to be about something new: the item did not figure on the agenda of the House of Representatives in the past 2 years.
- The proposal must fall within the competence of the House of Representatives, i.e. it must relate to a national government issue and not to local government issues or any private matter.
- The proposal should not be inconsistent with norms and values that are deeply rooted in Dutch society.
- The proposal may not pertain to the Constitution, to taxation or budget bills.