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More Finnish Doctors Oppose Mercy Killing

Nearly two out of three Finnish physicians are opposed to euthanasia, or mercy killing. Over the past decade, the attitude of doctors has become more negative on the issue. Only one in five says that he or she could possibly carry out an assisted death if it were legal in Finland.

Twelve percent of Finnish physicians say thay have at some time been faced with a either a patient or a patient's close relative asking for help in ending the patient's life.

The figure comes from a survey of close to 500 doctors carried out by the Finnish Medical Journal.

Euthanasia is most often requested by patients suffering from a progressive neurological disorder, those in the late stages of fatal cancers, those suffering multiple disorders and depressed, psychotic patients.

The attitude of Finnish doctors towards mercy killing has changed over the past decade. A study in 1993 showed that almost a third of physicians at that time were in favour of legalizing active euthanasia.

However, today fewer would agree.

If euthanasia were legal here in Finland, one in five doctors say that they could assist in hastening a patient's death. Answering the same question ten years ago close to a quarter said that they could perform a mercy killing.

Euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands and in Belgium. The Netherlands is the only country in the world where a clear majority of physicians are said to support the practice of mercy killing.


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