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Working Group Predicts Legalisation of Active Euthanasia

A working group pondering the future of health care predicts that active euthanasia could be permitted in Finland in 10 - 15 years. The newspaper Aamulehti reports that the working group notes that support for assisted suicide is on the increase.

The working group submitted its report on the matter to the Future Committee of the Finnish Parliament at the beginning of this month.

The group notes that Finns want more self-determination, which includes the right to decide on one's own death. Finns have also been actively following the debate over the issue in other European countries.

Active euthanasia is legal under certain circumstances in The Netherlands and Belgium. In The Netherlands, assisted suicide is permissible if the person who wants to die expresses an unwavering desire, and if at least two doctors approve of the move.

A survey conducted in Finland last year indicates that 46 percent of nurses and one third of doctors approve of euthanasia.

The Finnish Medical Association takes a suspicious view of the issue. The association's vice president, Santero Kujala, said that helping patients commit suicide goes against the principle that a doctor's prime task is to protect life, and that active euthanasia would violate the principle.

However, Kujala does support passive euthanasia, where a doctor withholds treatment that might prolong a patient's life.

Laila Iharvaara of the pro-euthanasia group Exitus sees the observations of the researchers as a step in the right direction, but feels that 10 to 15 years is a long time to wait, at least for those who have to suffer with existing illnesses.

YLE24, Finnish News Agency

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