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Speaker receives citizens' initiative on legalisation of euthanasia

A citizens' initiative calling for the legalisation of euthanasia was handed over to Parliamentary Speaker Maria Lohela on Tuesday. The motion gathered well over the 60,000 signatures required to trigger mandatory consideration by lawmakers in just one month.

Eduskunnan puhemies Maria Lohela ottaa vastaan eutanasian laillistamista kannattavan kansalaisaloitteen.
Sponsors of the citizens' initiative on euthanasia handed the motion over the Parliamentary Speaker Maria Lohela. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

The sponsors of a citizens' initiative calling for the legalisation of euthanasia handed over the motion to Parliamentary Speaker Maria Lohela on Tuesday.

The initiative first went public on the Kansalaisaloite.fi website, the online service for launching legislative proposals, at the beginning of November last year. It gathered the 50,000 signatures required to take it to the parliament for consideration in just four weeks.

The sponsors of the initiative are former MPs Esko Seppänen, Iiro Viinanen, Henrik Lax, Oslo Soininvaara and Ilkka Taipale.

Supporters of the motion are calling on Finnish legislators to begin preparations to develop laws to regulate the practice of euthanasia or mercy killing, in Finland.

Pre-election support for euthanasia

During the handing over ceremony, ex-MP Seppänen said he hoped that parliamentary groups would not make partisan decisions on the motion, but would cast a conscience vote according to their personal convictions.

A straw poll conducted ahead of the last general election indicated that a clear majority of MPs supported legalising euthanasia. Altogether 119 parliamentarians or 59.5% said they backed the measure.

However a survey conducted in January by the Finnish Medical Association showed that only one in six doctors working with terminally-ill patients said they supported legalising euthanasia. Opponents of the proposal expressed concerned over a slipping threshold for euthanasia over time.

Lawmakers will discuss the motion next week, after which it will be taken up by Parliament's social and health care committee.

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