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Lucien van Wouw, The Netherlands
"We were not there just to say goodbye and that sticks with you your entire life"
 real 28k

Dr Adnan Siddiqui, London
"We are being used to sanitise death"
 real 28k

Bea Nemeth, Hungary
"If I was in an incurable situation and an incurable condition I would choose it"
 real 28k

David Kafeero, Uganda
"I think some of the decisions are psychological - it is a state of mind"
 real 28k

Bentley Tolmarsh, Australia
"I wouldn't like my children to see their father in great pain"
 real 28k

Joan Oatway, Spain
"Since 1977, I've gone around with 'no resuscitation' in my passport"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 13 December, 2000, 13:21 GMT
Should euthanasia be legal?
You can join the Talking Point On Air programme on Sunday at 1400 GMT and join the debate
The Netherlands has become the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia.

The bill was carried in the Dutch parliament by a vote of 104 for and 40 against.

The law still needs the approval of the Senate, but this is considered a formality, and it is expected to enter into force next year.

Would you welcome a similar law in your country? Is it a person's ultimate right to decide how they want to die?

This was the subject of Talking Point On Air on December 3, 2000.

Select the link below to watch Talking Point On Air

Read what you have said since the programme

Read a reflection of your comments during the programme

Read what you said before we went ON AIR

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your comments since the programme

I, like most people, have seen individuals suffer and die in pain when humanity as well as logic demands that they should be allowed to end their lives with dignity. It is to be hoped that a bill will come before Parliament before too long and that MPs will be allowed a free vote. Living wills would be a great step in the right direction.
Tony Flook, Reigate UK

After a certain age, people should be free to decide whether they want to continue living or to go away peacefully. I don't want to lie in some nursing home not able to perform the activities of daily living. If people want to die when they have a so-called terminal illness, they should say so before while they are healthy. Death is not just about the dying person, it is also about the people left behind who might feel the pain of death. Euthanasia, sure, but the standard should be so high that voluntary dying does not become another name for suicide.
Joseph Ogah, Cedar Falls, USA/ Ghana

Emotions and feelings are the very things that make us human

M. John, Cebu City, Philippines
Emotions and feelings are the very things that make us human. They are the roots of creativity and passion. If we accept euthanasia as a part of society, then we would be encouraging ourselves and others to miss out on the emotions one experiences when one is at the verge of death. How would we then be different from robots that are discarded after they outlive their usefulness?
M. John, Cebu City, Philippines

I find it hard to understand how we as a nation are compassionate enough to put animals out of their misery, but will not allow a fellow human, who, often in these circumstances, would be in extreme pain to make their final exit as dignified as possible.
Lisa, London, England

I would like to control my death as I like to control my life as far as possible. I have made a will to put my affairs in order and I will make a living will to take the burden off any relatives who need to second-guess my wishes. I like to be treated like an adult and euthanasia is an adult solution to a very sensitive and personal part of life.
Sue Binns, West Yorkshire, UK

This is not something that should be decided by politicians

Akua Sarpong, Accra, Ghana
I don't think euthanasia should be legal. It should only be a last resort and where there has been in-depth discussion between the patient and family. I think each individual has a right to life and has a right to choose his death. This is not something that should be decided by politicians.
Akua Sarpong, Accra, Ghana

I once read that only God could save lives, doctors merely prolong life. So why should they have to prolong a life of suffering instead of ending a life with dignity. By keeping people alive who are in pain and suffering are they not going against their very profession? I wonder what Hippocrates would have thought, "First, do no harm"?
Martin Campbell, Oxford UK

Let us suppose the purpose of life is to deepen awareness. The experience of approaching death may be distressing and painful but it can produce profound changes in people, the rewards could be incalculable. For example, to take one of many, my grandfather all his life a non-Christian, hours before his death repented, it was the culminating moment in his life, for him it was the difference between a purposeful and a wasted life, between heaven and hell. While no one really understands the meaning of life who are we to be so arrogant as to take away one hour of it.

The argument that only God can decide when someone dies is illogical. Surely then treating an ill patient to prolong their life is in itself fighting God's will?
SG, Crawley, UK

On the one hand it should be legal to relieve suffering and on the other it should remain illegal to protect people who are incapable of making a decision.
Juignet, Angers / French

After seeing how peacefully a badly injured fox was put down by injection in a few minutes by an RSPCA inspector, and having witnessed the suffering of two dearly loved relatives before they inevitably died in agony, I am in full favour of ending my life in the quiet, peaceful way the fox went asleep to end it's suffering. We are just as important as that fox !
Ken Attwell, Swansea ,Wales, UK.

I find it extremely odd that so many people refer to God in this matter insofar as they say that "God decides when your life should end". If you take that to its logical conclusion then we should also ban any type of "life saving" medical treatment such as heart transplants etc which prolong life. This subject will ALWAYS be a sad one but my point of view is that if somebody is suffering so much pain it should be their right to choose to live or die.
Sam Owen, UK

I don't see this as a "choice" for patients. It really is a last resort. There are so many cases where there is no hope, and prolonging the pain for the sick AND the family is almost cruel. Some of the comments seem to indicate that there will be "Suicide Clinics" where you can buy death. I'm sure that this isn't the case and that the process will be administered carefully (it needs to be!). We're dealing with life, suffering and death here, not a whim to end it all, and certainly NOT a way for doctors to free up beds in their hospitals.

To all those who are against this, why not volunteer to counsel the victims (both the sick and family) to understand the full consequences of what is at stake here. You may change your mind.
Christopher Laird, Tokyo, Japan

Let people do their own living and dying

Charles Johnston, Sydney Australia
I'm having a hard time understanding why people who are quite well and healthy insist on forcing their standards onto others who often are not. People should mind their own business and let people do their own living and dying.
Charles Johnston, Sydney Australia

A newborn infant cannot feed himself, clean himself, or communicate, and lives his life essentially as a vegetable. Taking care of him is surely a burden on his family, yet no one would question this burden or pity the family. This should apply even more so when the patient is someone who has lived a full life and sacrificed to take care of their children. Let's not forget that life itself is a terminal condition that can be very painful. We all die, and many of us go through great pain. But where there is life there is always hope. We who are healthy must remember this everyday, even more so those of us in pain.
Sarah, Jerusalem, Israel

In my opinion,euthanasia is the moral equilivant of abortion and should be a private matter between a patient and a physician, neither should be decided by politicians.
Bennie Gosney, Pinole,CA USA

The preservation of life is a natural instinct

Pascal Bessong, Thohoyandou, South Africa
The preservation of life is a natural instinct. Any act contrary to this is unnatural and therefore morally evil. Our world is a pleasure-seeking world that has lost the sense of dignity in suffering. As a Christian, I believe suffering has a supernatural value. No creature will ever feel the pain of suffering as Christ did. God gives life how, where and when He finds it expedient, so God will take away a life in similar conditions. No creature has the right to interfere with this.
Pascal Bessong, Thohoyandou, South Africa

We give the gift of a peaceful death to our pets, why not our human relatives? Why would a God need us to suffer unbearable pain?
Anne V. Gyles, USA

Euthanasia is not a crime, it is a choice

Joe D, Oregon, USA
In Oregon a similar law was passed last year. It is now tied up (like all other matters) in the court system. They are trying to decide if a terminally ill patient is "sane" enough to choose euthanasia. If someone asks to die, it is their choice. Because our society has become so "politically correct" too many times decisions are questioned more than twice. Euthanasia is not a crime, it is a choice. I see it no different from a woman's choice for an abortion. She has the freedom of choice. I say "let us make up our own minds" and leave us alone.
Joe D, Oregon, USA

I do not believe that anyone has the right to kill (thus I am also against capital punishment). Neither do I believe that anyone the right to kill themselves, but I also think the idea of punishing someone for attempted suicide is ridiculous. What I do believe in is the right of any individual, adult or child, to refuse treatment prolonging a painful and inevitable death and to refuse resuscitation. These choices ought to be made before witnesses and officially recorded, without the possibility of kin or anyone else countermanding these personal decisions when the awful moment comes where they have to be respected.
Phil Barr, Frankfurt, Germany

So doctors in the Netherlands now have a 'work number' for assisted suicide to neatly enter into their reports. Thereby bearing the responsibility argued so strongly as being too much for a judge to bear in the case of capitol punishment. The doctor-patient relationship will be changed forever now their role is not unambiguously to save life only. Never say to your doctor "I feeling like death" when he asks how you're feeling today. In my view a responsible caring doctor is prepared to apply his discretion more than convenient 'work numbers' to the myriad conditions encountered in dealing with human life in ill health.
David Manthorpe Hanoi, Vietnam

It is not up to us to interfere with the course that our lives take.

Caroline, Holland

The West has abdicated its responsibility to true love and care for the needy and the helpless in its society. The debate about euthanasia is possible only because of the self centred, Narcissistic culture of Post Modern Europe. We in Africa says: "Nobody knows tomorrow, it is this day's sunrise that you have seen, tomorrow's sunset can be more dazzling still" The issue in this debate is "community". Can what many call "degrading pain" become a training tool for empathy? Can it become a redemption module for those who are pain - free to appreciate freedom. It will be a sterile world indeed, where the only challenge remaining is the mental challenge of computers and engine management. Where are the worthy successors to the fathers of present day Europe?
Sayo Ajiboye, Lagos, Nigeria

I am an ex-South African, now living in Winterswijk in Holland, as a Dutch citizen. I found it a very sad day last week when these laws on euthanasia were passed. I am a practising Christian and know and believe that our death is in God's hands only. It is not up to us to interfere with the course that our lives take. How does this government reflect on the morals and principles of the Christians in its society?

Euthanasia is a humanitarian choice, a right for the person suffering the unendurable pain of a terminal disease. Rather than the question of whether a person should have the right to decide to end their own life, which if in a clear state of mind is simply a right which shoulld be given in any humane society, the question is why has it taken so long to be ratified at all? The Netherlands leads the way again in allowing people to make their own decisions, instead of being told what they can and cannot do by an interfering government.
Julian Buckley, Sao Paulo, Brazil

The Netherlands has little to offer the terminally ill and pain sufferers apart from being killed by the doctor. The hospice movement and specialised care has never developed there and now never will.
John Cohen New York

I once had to watch as an elderly patient was thrown about in a hospital bed by the agony he was suffering. All he could shout if that was what you would call it was 'they wouldn't treat an animal like this'. Fortunately for him he died that night about the same time as one of my uncles and an uncle of my wife. I find the human race beguiled by the religious into believing in an afterlife when the living are left to suffer unnecessarily. That should never be the case in a civilised society. If we cannot honour the wishes of the elderly then we should be ashamed of ourselves as humans.
Robert Sinclair Shand, Wick, Caithness

I do agree that people have the right to decide for themselves, but the Netherland Parliament should have included the sixth and seventh points: 6) Opinion of Qualified Psychologist must be sought; 7) Not Allowing the removal of Organ for Commercial Purpose.
David E. Okeke, Hamburg/Germany

I believe that euthanasia should be legalised but can we depend upon a doctor's decision to draw the line?

Roshni Banymandhub, Mauritius
I am very much in favour of letting someone end their own life, if they have no chance of recovery and are possibly going to suffer a long, painful and undignified death. We do this for animals so why not for humans? And this brings me to my suggestion. In the USA we can indicate on our drivers licence whether we wish to be an organ donor or not. In Britain we can carry a donor card to show our willingness to be a donor. So could we not also introduce a system where we could state our wishes in advance, i.e. Carry a Euthanasia Card?
Nigel Dawson, Fayeteville, Arkansas, USA

Life is sacred. It is God-given and only God has the right to take it. I believe that euthanasia should be legalised but can we depend upon a doctor's decision to draw the line? It is too much asking them? No one can be objective in such circumstances.
Roshni Banymandhub, Mauritius

While fully respecting these senior people talking in the show who think this is to be a positive initiative, I am just unhappy with this whole idea. With the kind of progress we are currently in the medical arena this is more frustrating. Who knows in a few more years when the doctors may know the Genome we might cure more of the disease or just comforting the pains we now believe IMPOSSIBLE.
Oli Ahad, Bangladesh

A movement which results in the person being allowed the choice of terminating suffering is ethically preferable to one which perpetuates it. There is nothing ennobling in terminal suffering. There is nothing morally uplifting in watching a loved one or relative writhe in anguish on the cross of hospital profit. The moans and whimpers of the dying cancer patient are not songs of triumph but of deep, personal tragedy. If a person's life has reached the point, such that the quality has been compromised beyond an acceptable level for them, they ought to be allowed to end it in what ever manner they choose. The 5000 year old cultural musings of a nomadic tribe, ought not to affect the decisions one makes based on the facts as they are.
Rev. Kenneth M. Kafoed, New Orleans, USA

Your comments during the programme

I'm 81 and I'm very fit but I would like to put the point to some of these people that because I live in a Catholic country, here in Spain, this idea would be an absolute anathema. They go to the other extreme, spending every minute trying to promote life, to carry on life. Since 1977, I've gone around with 'no resuscitation' in my passport as witnessed by my children.
Joan Oatway, Spain

I agree entirely with euthanasia and the law that has been passed by the Netherlands. Although I have cancer it is not malignant but if I was ever suffering with great pain I wouldn't like my children to see their father in great pain. I would rather see them for 24 hours, for them to gather around my bedside, and I would say 'I'm gong to have a pill tonight and go to sleep and will be very happy to do so'.
Bentley Tolmarsh, Australia

In this day and age , there is no need for people to suffer

Jo, UK
We have the chance to die with dignity. I lost my grandfather last month and I have to tell you that if I was in an incurable situation and an incurable condition I would choose it because of relatives and myself. I don't want to be suffering this incurable pain and incurable condition and I don't want them to be suffering.
Bea Nemeth, Budapest, Hungary

My husband has been diagnosed with cancer. We have discussed the situation rationally and he has decided that if ever the need for radical surgery arose, he would not want to live with the aftermath. I have agreed to be there for him, hold him, love him, until the end which he would instigate himself. I am an ex qualified State Registered Nurse and I see no point in prolonging life if there is not the quality and the dignity which should be afforded to all. In this day and age , there is no need for people to suffer. I know, also, that I would want my husband to do the same kindness for me, should the need arise.
Jo, England, UK

I do agree on the idea of euthanasia for some terminal illnesses that are not treatable. But I would like to ask the panel, that if a person is suffering from an illness that is perfectly treatable and he could not afford the treatment due to, let's say poverty, and he asks for euthanasia, would you allow it or not? On what grounds? What we have to realize is that sometimes the definition of terminal illnesses varies depending on the depth of your pocket. And sooner or later doctors will start to suggest euthanasia for poor and neglected people who can not afford the right treatment.
Simon Haileselassie

I don't entirely agree with whole question of euthanasia. I have a feeling we have only analysed it on a biological and theological arrangement. I think some of the decisions are psychological - it is a state of mind.
David Kafeero, Uganda

People should be able to control their own lives, terminally ill patients are allowed to end their lives by refusing medical treatments; in all fairness, those who don't have that option should be allowed to choose death. Death is a compassionate way to relieve unbearable suffering, either for the patients or her and his relatives. I think this issue should be remain a personal matter. To end the life of a terminally ill patient will continue to be a decision that a patient and the patient's family and physician reach privately.
Frank Warren Ho, Republic of Taiwan

I wish you would not refer to doctor assisted death as 'Euthanasia'. I am a nurse and Anglican deacon working in Swaziland, when I die I want euthanasia, i.e. I want a good death. That is what euthanasia is! I have worked with people living with HIV for nearly 20 years and been privileged to be alongside many people preparing for their death.
Pat Wright

I am against euthanasia because the doctors assume that conventional medicine is the only form of relief

Serina Ablett, Perth, Western Australia
One point that I haven't heard brought up is that the Dutch law ALLOWS physicians to provide euthanasia to their patients, but it doesn't REQUIRE them to do so. If a physician's ethical or religious beliefs prohibit them from performing this, I don't see how the law requires them to do so. The patient will be required to seek assistance from another physician.
Steve Porter Sardis, Saline County, Arkansas, USA

I am against euthanasia because the doctors assume that conventional medicine is the only form of relief. If they helped others realize the enormous benefits of homoeopathy and alternative modes of pain control, for example meditation or hypnosis they would see for themselves the enormous palliative benefits to their patients. It seems that the prevailing attitude is that once doctors say they can do no more you must die. Would a doctor explore all alternatives outside of his training?
Serina Ablett, Perth, Western Australia

My uncle suffered a series of strokes and various illnesses and was kept alive as a virtual 'vegetable' - ( a horrible word, but unfortunately quite apt ) for over five years in a nursing home. During this time he was unable to communicate at all, and there was no way of knowing whether or not he was aware of his situation, or indeed of anything at all. Once or twice in those five years, a flicker of awareness was seen, and both times he managed to say one word - 'Enough'. The whole period was very trying and traumatic for the family and to me it seemed quite pointless to sustain his life. He died in great pain and anguish, very upsetting for those near him, and I can't help thinking that it would have been much better for him and all his family to have ended his life gently and relatively peacefully much earlier. I know that this would have been our decision and not his, and realise this has great implications, but nonetheless I feel it would have been the best thing to do.
Joe Beedell

I do not believe in the divine sacredness of life in the traditional religious sense, but I reckon that patients considering suicide lack courage and character in confronting adversity. Euthanasia is very self demeaning. The action is in effect saying, "I am no longer of any value to society."
Tim Wong, Sydney, Australia

My concern, as a doctor, is at the actual means of ending life. I think people are putting the job on doctors and our job is to preserve life and ease suffering. I would say that you have to weigh up each circumstance as it is. Essentially, in this problem we are being used to sanitise death. If I was asked to assist in doctor assisted suicide and used a pillow to asphyxiate a patient I don't think anyone would doubt that I had murdered somebody. However, if I give them a lethal injection it makes it somehow better.
Dr Adnan Siddiqui, London

Euthanasia is a crime against humanity. Please let it not happen in other countries.
Syed Naveed Abid, Delft\Holland

I believe that there are both positive and negative sides to the legalising of euthansia. Although for many people it will be a God's send allowing them to die with dignity and escaping pain, there will always be some people who choose to die for the wrong reasons. As one gentleman put it the Netherlands will become a Mecca for people who just want to give up. We never know what scientific developments and researches are taking place, a person may end there life on one day only for a better treatment or possibly even a cure to be found later. I believe everyone deserves the right to live their life they way they want but for another human take that life away is questionable. I am only glad I am not a doctor nor going into that profession.
Catherine Dix, Bristol, UK

As medical practitioners are trained to save lives, are we not asking too much of the doctors to comply with contradictory objectives, in assisting with euthanasia? Are we not likely to fail in this just as we fail in asking the military forces trained to kill, to undertake humanitarian tasks?
Mohansingh, India

It should be carried out humanly as possible. Of course, it is primarily important that the doctor does his duties that is, to try to save the patient's life as much as possible. If all else fails then euthanasia should be the last resort.
Alexis, Singapore

A part from the fact whether it is moral or not. Isn't it already happening anyway? Are doctors sometimes making money out of it? (this IS a question) If this is the case, I believe legalising euthanasia is a good thing as it would be more controlled and with less abuse.
Rebecca, London

May be 25 years ago, my grandmother was dying of a very aggressive form of osteoporosis, which is a that is a bone disease where the bone gets brittle and breaks off. She asked for several doctors to help her to die and so did her eldest daughter and my mother. The doctor replied then"I'm sorry, I can't help you because I don't want to go to prison." Finally, she was given a lot of morphine in the end, but it had to be done in secret. We were not there just to say goodbye and that sticks with you your entire life. I'm very happy that now it can be done in the open.
Lucien van Wouw, The Netherlands

Why would the US or the UK want to follow that example? In the US, Holland is known for the marijuana festival and "women of low character." I don't know how much of that is true but I wonder how much longer the average person is going to put up with these sorts of things. It lowers our standards so much everytime we devalue human life. I watched my grandmother die of cancer one week before her first great grandchild was born, she was an old southern country women, refused the pain meds because she didn't want to "die and addict", she kept herself dignified even when having trouble speaking. I was awe, she was ready when her time came. A heck of a woman. Tougher than I'll ever be.
Mike Hubbard, USA

I am basically in support of mercy killing IF DONE APPROPRIATELY. It is similar to pulling the plug off the life-support machine. If I were critically ill, I would definitely ask to be given mercy-killing. Since there is little chance of me surviving, trying to keep me alive would, in my opinion, exert further pain and suffering on my loved ones.
Wee Lim Singapore

The religious establishment have very little left of their dogma that they can cling on to. The "mystery" of death is one of them. I do not want the time and mode of my death to be influenced in any way by the misguided beliefs of others. If there are arguments against euthanasia they must not be put forward on a religious base.
Patrick Quinn, Moscow, Russia

Your comments before we went ON AIR

I was with my little sister when she died - horribly - of melanoma. She was mentally ill as well as terminally ill physically so even if Netherlands-like euthanasia laws existed in the country where she lived and died, she would have been ineligible for it. However, had it been me instead of her in the hospice bed, I would have swallowed all the morphine pills in the bottle, nevermind the doctor-assisted bit. No person, law or belief system has the right to deny one the right to end one's own terrible, pointless suffering.
Donnamarie Leeman, Switzerland

If I have a right to life should I not also have an equal right to death? Without this, what does a right to life in fact mean?
David Fynn, Willoughby, Ohio, USA

This should turn Holland into a kind of reverse Lourdes of the North: a mecca for people seeking not a miraculous recovery but a quick, painless exit

John, Brussels
This should turn Holland into a kind of reverse Lourdes of the North: a mecca for people seeking not a miraculous recovery but a quick, painless exit. Perhaps some clever entrepreneurs will start offering the one-way trips.
John, Brussels

People are born free, I believe I have the right to take my own life, (but of course, nobody else's). Just because a nation is Catholic, or Christian or any dominant religion which is anti-euthanaisa, I don't think that should affect me, because I am an atheist. Why should the beliefs of the masses affect me at all if I don't believe in them? I find it hard to understand how most western countries have legalised abortion, which in many cases is not for any medical reason, it is for the needs of a selfish society not wanting to be ruin their careers with children. This is surely closer to the definition of murder than euthanasia, so I don't see why euthanasia is not generally accepted as abortion is. I would help a friend die if circumstances arose, and I would hope someone would do the same for me.
Shaihan, Cambridge, UK

I am in favour of euthanasia. Those who suffer from unbearable pain due to deadly diseases like cancer etc have no other way of escaping from the trauma. The euthanasia is purely a personal matter and should be left to the choice of the individual. Some times people who oppose this speak about our life being a gift of God and so on. They should understand that belief in God is also a personal matter and should not be imposed on other people.
Abu Thomas, India

I am a British anaesthetist working in the Netherlands and I have carried out euthanasia on several occasions. I am ashamed of the British hypocrisy which forces euthanasia underground. And I have great respect for the Dutch for being the first country in the world to have the courage to admit that euthanasia does happen, and to regulate it properly. In the Netherlands euthanasia can be openly discussed between patient, doctor, nursing staff and family. This has unbelievably important advantages to all concerned. I do not want to play God: I do not want to decide that a patient should die, and certainly not that he should not die. My job is to provide the patient with the possibilities for treatment, with the consequences of such treatment, and to support him or her when the choice has been made:- his or her choice, not mine.
Nigel Jack, Winterswijk, The Netherlands

Is suicide illegal? Most people who ask for euthanasia are, either physically or mentally, incapable of ending their own lives. Unofficial euthanasia is common practise in many countries: "painkillers" do not only kill the pain but also the patient in the end. What happens in Holland is that this hypocrisy is taken away and doctors, nurses and relatives can be spared prosecution in case they help a terminal patient to make his or her own decision.
Gerard Herbers, Arnhem, The Netherlands

I carry a card issued by the Voluntary Euthanasia Society and I do not want to be resuscitated or my lie prolonged should there be no reasonable prospect of my recovery. I am also a carer looking after my disabled parents and would not wish the long suffering they endure because of their respective conditions on anyone.
Richard Howard, Northampton, England

In the past there were many diseases where we did not have the cure. Now we are living in an age where medicine has helped to eradicate many of these diseases. Some argue that life is a gift and that we should not interfere with nature. However, there are no qualms when one seeks medical assistance to extend life but yet there is so much fuss when one seeks assistance to end it. Why can't the medical fraternity help to ease pain, whether it is to extend life or to end it?
Muru Gappan, Melbourne Australia

No person should be made to suffer needlessly. In the last century, medicine has advanced to the point where a person can be kept alive even when the brain has ceased functioning. Is this life? I think that the medical profession does a laudable job of saving lives, and healing people, but there comes a point where the prolongation of life is a cruelty not a blessing. With strict guidelines, I feel that the application of euthanasia could end needless suffering for thousands of people. I had to watch a close friend suffering through the loss of a loved one to cancer. It is an agony I wouldn't want to wish that on anybody.

While I understand why a religious physician might not want to be mandated to perform active euthanasia, I find it intolerable when such a person insists on "heroic intervention" to keep someone alive in pain purely to satisfy his, the physician's religious beliefs about the dignity of human life etc. -- in this case someone else's life, dignity and pain. Let us continue to debate active euthanasia with safeguards, but hear less of this insistence on intervention in order to follow a private non-medical agenda at someone else's expense.
David, Norway

Euthanasia should be legalized. People should have a right to decide whether or not they want to continue living with a terminal condition. When will the medical and religious establishments realize that QUALITY of life more important than QUANTITY. Dr. Kervorkian should have been given a medal for his humanitarian efforts rather than a prison sentence.
Jeremy Mancuso, Houston, USA

I commend the Dutch for allowing such patients the choice to end their suffering if they wish to

Rob, Seattle
Life is almost always worth living. But sometimes there are cases where a terminal patient's agony cannot be relieved, nor their death hastened by withholding treatment. I commend the Dutch for allowing such patients the choice to end their suffering if they wish to. It is a well safeguarded law that shows the deepest respect for human life.
Rob, Seattle, USA (Australian).

This recent development in the Netherlands is in no way surprising to me. Europe is now a Post-Christian/Atheist society. I don't expect these politicians to be concerned about what a biblical God would think of their actions anymore than I expect them to start going to church. What I am worried about, is when this juggernaut of permissiveness sweeps the rest of Europe.
C. Welsh, San Fernando, Trinidad

If a loved one is suffering and you know things will never be any better. They will have no quality in life then it is kinder to end their life for them. Maybe people who wish for this to be done to them could carry a card as organ donors do.
Karen, Weston-Super-Mare UK

I believe it is against the Catholic church. If God wants that person to die, some how that will happen without intentional human interferences.
Petros, Auckland, New Zealand

What's the process through which people authorize Euthanasia? This in my belief is critical to the safty of this law. Can someone enlighten me?
Max, Manila, Philippines, (British)

Euthanasia also known as mercy killing is simply taking one's own life without mercy. Remember, there is no mercy in killing.
Abdullah Somandar, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

The idea of voluntary euthanasia is one which seems just and reasonable, especially if like me you have seen a young (29) person die of cancer. However, I feel that doctors should have the right not to be asked to take part, let there be a specialist team who come and take over completely if euthanasia is requested, I would not feel comfortable being treated by somebody who has killed.
Paul Allery, Paralimni, Cyprus

We need to ask ourselves if the medical fraternity is really qualified to deliver a verdict on whether a patient should live or die

Albert Devakaram, Chennai, India
Some years ago the High Court in the Southern Indian State of Kerala dismissed a writ petition filed by a couple of people demanding the right to put an end to their lives. In a country where most citizens firmly believe that each life is a gift from the Almighty God, it would be just impossible to legalise euthanasia. This is the reason why suicides are declared illegal in India. Supporters of euthanasia may feel that the doctor in certain cases of unbearable pain and agony, could play the role of God and end the patient's life with his or her consent. But who is to judge if the doctor was right or wrong in arriving at such an important conclusion? Cases of the learned doctors sealing the lives of "very difficult patients" are on the rise in the best of hospitals. We need to ask ourselves if the medical fraternity is really qualified to deliver a verdict on whether a patient should live or die.
Albert Devakaram, Chennai, India

Let's put the issue at its most basic: The basis of our societies is that, within the confines of the law, we have the right to choose how we live. Should we not then, within the confines of the same law, have the right to choose how we die?
Tom, Belgium

Surely this is yet another matter of choice ? My father died of Alzheimer's disease after seven years of slow and degrading decline. I could face old age much more serenely if I knew I could check out any time I wanted and what's more, I believe I have that right. We hear a lot about the right to life; what about the right to a dignified death?
M. Bailey, Brussels, Belgium

Euthanasia is another of those topics about which there are no conclusive arguments. My view, equally as valid as that of any politician or religious leader, applies to me and not necessarily to anyone else.
1. I have the right to take my own life.
2. No one has the right to take another person's life.
3. No one has the right to assign to anyone else the right to take any life.
These principles were enshrined in our Northern Territory law. In practice this made it necessary for any person wishing to die to take the final action personally and voluntarily. Unfortunately the law was overturned by political busybodies. Politicians and religious leaders have 'busybody' built in to them and they love the power to control other people's lives. That is unlikely to change.
John Wilcock, Victoria,Australia

Many people have expressed the fear that a future step will be to perform euthanasia upon undesirable elements who are nothing but a drain on society. I agree that this would be totally unacceptable in a supposedly 'civilised, modern' society. However, it is a perfect description of capital punishment, practised by many countries, even upon those suffering from severe mental illness (such as Larry Robison in the USA).
Andrew, UK

I have generally been proud of being a Dutchman, but with this new legislation on mercy killing I feel rather ashamed of belonging to this nation. Perhaps economic sanctions against our country would make our government rethink its position, since the economy seems to be the only issue that does matter to them; moral standards don't.
Hans van der Maten, Enschede, The Netherlands

Death is an inevitable and integral part of our lives and we should not sweep the issue under the carpet by using doctors to dispose of the dying

Dr Adnan Siddiqui, London, UK
As a doctor if I was asked to assist someone in dying and instead of giving a lethal injection put a pillow over their face to asphyxiate them then I would be termed a murderer although it would have the desired effect. I feel that people who support euthanasia want to sanitise death using the medical profession. Partially this is due to fear of death and the increasing trend of wanting dying relatives to expire in the sterile environments of hospitals so as not to upset the living. Death is an inevitable and integral part of our lives and we should not sweep the issue under the carpet by using doctors to dispose of the dying.
Dr Adnan Siddiqui, London, UK

The law ensures total transparency and security on the one hand and complete freedom of choice for a terminal patient on the other. There are mainly elderly and disabled people, who fear that they'll have to commit euthanasia when they threaten to become a 'burden' for their relatives. This fear is completely unfounded. The law states clearly, that euthanasia is allowed only if a terminal patient requests it and when the suffering is unbearable and pointless. Those who think this law will turn into a "Third Reich" practice of exterminating "useless people" are clearly misinformed. It's the patients wish for a dignified and comfortable death that presides, not some capitalist rationale. Doctor assisted suicides by severe depressed people are not legalised, the law is very specific about that.
Peter, the Netherlands

With a few exceptions this has been a predictable discussion with both camps forwarding lots of well rehearsed 'arguments'. What is lacking is an understanding of the issue beyond the catch phrases. There is hardly a critical thought about what we mean with 'dignity', 'quality of life', 'suffering', 'rational' and the like. These simple words hide a minefield of possible interpretations and only a few think about that my understanding of them may significantly differ from, for instance, the medical or legal profession. Who is to decide then? Why? And on what grounds? In theory some forms of euthanasia could be a blessing, in practise the underlying issues turn it into a battlefield with casualties on both sides.
Steve Bachmann, London, UK

The next step down the slippery slope will be pushing for "mercy killings" of those who cannot state their wishes

Marlene, Australia
The next step down the slippery slope will be pushing for "mercy killings" of those who cannot state their wishes. The recent case where the courts in France agreed to compensate a handicapped child for being allowed to be born illustrates this trend of others (usually healthy) placing a lower value on another's life. In Hitler's Germany it was presumed "humane" to end the lives of handicapped and disabled people. It deeply concerns me where we are moving as a society. I have sympathy for those who are really suffering in pain, but I feel that protection of the helpless is paramount.
Marlene, Australia

My concern is the definition of putting somebody out of their misery. Ok maybe in extreme cases such as the closing phases of terminal cancer. But where does it stop. In WW2 a practice was made here in Germany of putting disabled children out of their misery that was called euthanasia and even though we think that is disgusting now to the doctors it seemed to be the right thing at the time. I could imagine in a future time a government that is cash strapped admonishing the same practice and removing all legal barriers will make it a lot easier for such a thing to happen again in secrecy.
Mark , Ulm, Germany (UK citizen)

F. Toro (Caracas) hit the nail on the head saying that euthanasia is "assisted suicide" - has anyone asked the doctors how they feel about being asked to 'put someone to sleep' and then have to live with that for the rest of their lives beyond the patient's death? As well as elderly patients feeling pressurised to 'ask for assistance to die', will we end up with medical professions feeling pressurised into taking part in the event? And take the scenario of a patient asking and the doctor refusing due to their own conscience - how much more anguish will that bring about to all involved? Will hospitals end up with lists of 'doctors who will' and 'doctors who won't'? Having cared for individuals who are terminally ill I agree with those who believe in an improved palliative care system and sensible, 'non-heroic' treatment. I don't believe in making 'a date with death'.
Liz Cooper, Sydney, Australia (British Ex-pat)

It could lead to the most subtle form of inwardly-directed pressure

Danyal Aytekin, Cambridge, England
Consider this common situation. A dying person wants desperately to fight their disease, at a cost to their country's health service and where their disease appears to be terminal. These patients may sometimes be encouraged take a combative stance against terminal disease simply because the law, and the medical profession, is felt to be on their side. With euthanasia legalised the question, "might the money be spent better on someone else?", is one that a socially-minded patient might feel obliged to answer. It could lead to the most subtle form of inwardly-directed pressure.
Danyal Aytekin, Cambridge, England

The moral debate is all well and good, but I must point out that this legislation contravenes directly the European Convention on Human Rights, Section 1 Article 2 Subsection 1. This guarantees the Right to Life of all Europeans, and states "No-one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction for a crime for which this penalty is provided by law." It would be extremely embarrassing for the Netherlands if it were found to be in breach of such a vitally important statement of Human Rights. I hope this unconstitutional legislation is challenged in the courts.
Lachlan McLean, Law Student, Cambridge, UK

Death is usually a very personal choice. Some people see it as a fulfilling end to life. They spend their last days tying up loose ends and things. Other people, they resist death to the final second. They will go through no end of pain to hold onto life. Some people, obviously, have no choice in how they die. However, I think people need to be given the flexibility to manage their death as they see fit. If that involves euthanasia to give themselves a dignified and less painful death, then so be it. Death is a natural part of life, stop treating it as a disease.
Jonathan Bensley, Melbourne, Australia

How can one even start comparing this to the 3rd Reich or abortion?

Robert, London
It shocks me to read comparisons between the Dutch euthanasia law and the 3rd Reich. It is very easy to judge as an outsider or say it's wrong because it's inhuman. One of the three criteria states that "he or she must have repeatedly requested help to die and a second medical opinion must be sought". How can one even start comparing this to the 3rd Reich or abortion? I'd rather die via euthanasia than from being exhausted from pain and not noticing I am dying because of valium. Which death is more human?
Robert, London (Dutch)

Physician assisted suicide was also passed by the state of Oregon in the US. The federal government overturned it. I can't understand that a country that allows healthy people to be put down (capital punishment) is against ending the life of someone who is seriously in pain. If a person had a dog that couldn't walk and was howling with pain, that person would be considered mean and insensitive.
Tom Butts, Seattle, USA

In Sweden the law says that you are entitled to a worthy death, but as long as euthanasia is not legal it will not be so. It seems logic to me that if you are entitled to live you should also be entitled to die.
Daniel Sundqvist, Huddinge, Sweden

Legalising Euthanasia is the step towards legalising suicides and doing away with inconvenient infirm and old people. Many people think on the lines of the capitalist notion that if anything is economically unproductive it should be avoided. If we follow this line of thinking one day we'll say annihilate all the people-- the maimed, handicapped and the sick-- who can not contribute much productively to society. Even for doctor assisted suicides, it too has lots of problems to be addressed. There is no way to correct a decision once it is made. A person in a bout of depression decided to terminate his life which he really would not have wanted; is there any way s/he can reverse her/his decision after her/his death?
Sebastian Kuzhikannil, India

I've always had mixed emotions about euthanasia

Moshe, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
I've always had mixed emotions about euthanasia, because it was not performed on my mother, even though she specifically requested it. She was thought to suffer from M.S., which cannot be cured at all, causes constant pain, and pretty much made her into a "living" vegetable. One day when I was 17, we all decided that enough was enough, because she had been having trouble breathing for weeks. The next day, we invited her sisters and close family friends, called the doctor, and prepared for her death. However, the doctor wasn't available, and his assistant wasn't willing to perform euthanasia without one final check-up in the hospital. Of course, we were very angry about this betrayal, but in the end we felt it would be the wisest thing to do. She went to hospital, received medication for another disease, M.G., which although similar in effect to M.S., can be treated. Somehow, she reacted to the medication, even though it hadn't worked on previous attempts. I'm now 25, and my mother is quite active again, doing things that we couldn't have dared hope for before that emotional day 8 years ago. One might therefore think that I should now somehow be against euthanasia, because some miracle might happen, but in reality I just don't know. What if the medication hadn't worked? It's a difficult and emotional issue, and I firmly believe that it's up to the people involved to decide if they want to go on living, prolonging their suffering, or to perform euthanasia, and getting it over with.
Moshe, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Frequently it seems that the relatives have more difficulty in accepting the condition than the patients themselves

Michael Drane, New Zealand
As a General Practitioner, who seems to be being volunteered to "terminate/end/finish off/kill" people in distress, I make the following observations:
1. The frequent comments about untreatable pain say more about the lack of good palliative care than the need to kill people.
2. I could not count the number of occasions I have witnessed the final hours as being some of the most important in a person's life. Frequently it seems that the relatives have more difficulty in accepting the condition than the patients themselves. Perhaps we ought to kill the relatives to put them out of their misery too.
3. It is a sad irony that the Dutch have forgotten from whence they came. At the beginning of World War 2, the Dutch physicians refused to accept orders from Reichskommissar Seiss-Inquart, to embark on a programme which served patients up to labour camps. Their priority was to provide confidential and supportive care, and they were prepared to suffer for their stand. Once a doctor wealds a needle that can mean either life or death, who can ever feel safe when sick?
Michael Drane, New Zealand

Reading the comments, some people seem to fear that patients will be 'killed' against their will or that doctors will help people who might have been recovered. That's not true. There will be very strict rules on euthanasia. Among those rules: the patient wants to die, their is'nt any chance of recovery, the patient's suffering is unbearable and the doctor has to ask a colleague for a second opinion. Any doctor commiting euthanasia against these rules will be prosecuted. I think these measures reduce the chance of abuse to a minimum. So I'm very glad I can grow up and grow old in a country which doesn't force it's inhabitants to live their last days in agony.
Marianne, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands

As long as lucre is involved in healthcare, I will not grant the medical establishment the power to end life

Jason, New York, USA
I can certainly empathise with those of you who have seen loved ones suffer. However, I cannot support euthanasia, at least not here in America. In the USA, healthcare is a business. We have hospital corporations, shareholders and, of course, people who cannot find decent healthcare because there's no money to be made from it. Under these circumstances, it would be too easy for cases that are inconvenient, messy or expensive to turn into "requests" for euthanasia. That may seem like an extreme statement, but remember, this is a country where people die waiting for the HMOs to grant them permission to have surgery. As long as lucre is involved in healthcare, I will not grant the medical establishment the power to end life.
Jason, New York, USA

In my canton in Geneva, Switzerland, I am a member of an officially recognised institution called "Exit", assisting individuals, upon their request, to die once it has been proven that there is no hope for the future and that any further suffering would be inhumane. After my fiancÚ died of cancer 20 years ago, aged 35, suffering horrid pains without hope for survival, I had been on the look-out for some official institution to help me die in dignity in case of a terminal illness. Thanks to "Exit" I lead a fearless life in that respect.
Doris, Geneva, Switzerland

Certainly not. We should preserve life by any means necessary and recognise that it doesn't belong to us in the first place. Lethal injections are always murder. However, in cases of some brain-dead patients, it may be permissible to turn off the life support machine if there is no hope of recovery. The country that legalises euthanasia would soon also call for getting rid of mentally challenged or handicapped persons.
Eliyahu Shoot, Cambridge, USA

The decision should be left up to the patient

Hunter Hutchinson, Herndon, Virginia, USA
The decision should be left up to the patient, not the physicians or even the family. My mother wrote a "living will" long before she died, in which she expressed her desire not to be kept alive by "heroic means," but to be allowed to die a natural death. She did not, however, want to be euthanised. I believe everyone should have a binding "living will" and the care that a person receives in grave illness should be guided by the stipulations in such a "living will." If a person's religious beliefs forbid mercy killing, that should be respected and expressed in their "living will." I have written my own "living will", based on my Roman Catholic faith, and when the time comes, and I am gravely ill, to the point that I cannot live without heroic medical intervention, I have expressed my desire to be allowed to die a natural death, but not to be put to death.
Hunter Hutchinson, Herndon, Virginia, USA

The subject of euthanasia from my point of view is a subjective one. Different individuals have different perceptions of its legitimacy. Personally, I do agree with the concept of euthanasia when it is 'necessary'. However there are still unsettling legal principles as to the subject. For example, to whom the right to die should be given and under what circumstances euthanasia can be applied. The bottom line is that until all the above issues can be settled, the legalisation of euthanasia still appears to be a subjective issue to be tackled.
Steven Mun, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

We all go through suffering and pain in our lifetime. Bravely facing such challenges gives meaning to our life. Asking for death does not.
Nitish Dass, USA

Now, family and friends can be there together to say goodbye and in dignified circumstances

Lucien van Wouw, Leiden, NL
I am happy that it can be done openly. Now, family and friends can be there together to say goodbye and in dignified circumstances. One point: euthanasia is not legalised. But under certain conditions it will not be prosecuted.
Lucien van Wouw, Leiden, NL

Take the religion out, take the politics out ... This is about easing the suffering of people who would otherwise suffer an agonising death. Nobody wants to die slowly and painfully, what's wrong with preventing people from suffering?
Alex White, Plymouth, UK

I am very glad that my country made this step. When looking at these comments, I must say that people should look at the conditions that allow euthanasia. To Irene, Kenya: I don't think that Hitler gave people a choice during his final solution.
Remy, Haarlem, Holland

Why stop at making the euthanasia option legal: make it compulsory and clear the waiting lists and reduce the financial burden on the state of support for all these people with worn out bodies. How soon before this is the agenda I wonder?
John Brownlee, England

I fear that too many will end up feeling obliged to end their lives to avoid being a burden

Laurie Morales, Kansas City USA
Granting a terminally ill person the right to consciously end his own suffering is a noble idea; however, we forget we are often not noble people, and the opportunities for abuse must be addressed. I fear that too many will end up feeling obliged to end their lives to avoid being a burden.
Laurie Morales, Kansas City USA

Though I believe that God created human beings and life is sacred, I'm the master of my life. God is not going to appear in my dream and tell me that I'm going to be relieved of all my sufferings. I have to take the decision whether I like to live or not. When we cannot put an end to a person's sufferings and when we cannot bear the dear one's sufferings anymore, with the person's consent we can say 'yes' to euthanasia. Euthanasia is a ddignified death and it is very much welcome. Euthanasia is not destruction, rather it is construction.
Albert P'Rayan, Kigali, Rwanda

Critically ill patients are often kept alive by drugs and life support systems. A some stage family members or doctors decide on this course of treatment. Similarly, drugs are used to ease the pain of sufferers and more often than not, it is the drugs rather than the disease itself that ends the patient's life. Since both of these facts are indisputable, I feel we may as well admit that we have been practising the topic in question for decades anyway, although at an institutional level rather than a national one. This being the case, the question that we are really talking about is whether or not to make it a national or political issue or leave it in the domain of families and hospitals.
Tim Blankley, Japan

What message does legalising euthanasia send to other disabled and ill people? Can anyone remember what compassion is like?
Martin Gamble, Derbyshire, UK

I came into this world on my own and thanks heaven my people allow me to go if I think I should when my body becomes a prison.
Ron Brandenburg, The Netherlands

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