A citizen's initiative to raise the issue of euthanasia in the Finnish Parliament (Eduskunta) has passed the requisite 50,000 signatories required to trigger a parliamentary debate.
As in many countries, Finland has been dicing with euthanasia for some years now. The pro-euthanasia lobby, Exitus has been active since the early 1990s. As in many countries, the notional public support for euthanasia is above the two-thirds mark. Support amongst the nations doctors has also been steadily increasing in recent years with support and oppose numbers in the medical profession both at 46% in 2014.
As with all Finnish Citizen's Initiatives, the 'Euthanasia initiative on behalf of a good death' includes a prescription of the form of the Bill to be debated. The presented model is for euthanasia for people experiencing an 'incurable fatal disease, and death takes place in the near future'. The registered signatories now exceed 62000 which should ensure that, after exclusion checks, that a formal bill is developed and that the parliament is compelled to move to a vote.
The sponsor for the initiative is former Finnish MP, Esko Olavi Seppänen. Seppänen, a member of the Left Alliance Party and earlier the Finnish Communist Party, he was also a Member of the European Parliament from 1996 to 2009 as a Member of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL).
The Finnish Medical Association remains opposed to the initiative. Association head Heikki Palve said that the majority of palliative care doctors working with dying patients object to legalising euthanasia. A 2010 survey of doctors attitudes found that, in their opinion, more training on palliative care would diminish requests for active euthanasia and improve physicians’ skills in dealing with the difficult challenges faced in end-of-life situations and care.
Timo Soini, the chairperson of the Finns Party, has confirmed his intention to vote against the citizens' initiative to legalise euthanasia in Finland. Finns is the second largest party in the four-party governing coalition in Finland and has a socially conservative base. Amongst its coalition partners both the National Coalition and the Centre Party hold within their ranks notional majorities of socially conservative MPs.
It is not clear at this time when a bill will be tabled for debate.
Transplant surgeons in Belgium and the Netherlands are already harvesting organs from patients who have requested euthanasia. Could this happen in Canada, the new kid on the euthanasia block? Perhaps. In a recent article in the Journal of Medical Ethics, two bioethicists from Quebec argue that organ donor euthanasia is a homage to autonomy and needs to be legalised. Apparently the Quebec government and the society of transplant surgeons in Quebec are also on board.
Of all the bad ideas associated with euthanasia, this must be one of the worst. The potential for exploiting vulnerable people is immense. Imagine that you are a quadriplegic. Your organs are healthy; you are lonely, frustrated, discouraged. You see a TV program in which a doctor praises the unforgettable generosity of So-and-so whose life was not worth living but found a way to give life to others, etc, etc. Wouldn't you think of ringing up the doctor and asking him how to go about it?
Will Canada be able to stop this from happening?
|This week in BioEdge|
Suite 12A, Level 2 | 5 George St | North Strathfield NSW 2137 | Australia
Phone: +61 2 8005 8605
Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgNew Media Foundation | Level 2, 5 George St | North Strathfield NSW 2137 | AUSTRALIA | +61 2 8005 8605