NRL News

Finland set to debate euthanasia

by | Jan 3, 2017

By Paul Russell, Founder, HOPE Australia

Esko Olavi Seppänen

Esko Olavi Seppänen

A citizen’s initiative to raise the issue of euthanasia in the Finnish Parliament (Eduskunta) has gathered the requisite 50,000 signatories required to trigger a parliamentary debate. [1]

As in many countries, Finland has been dicing with [considering] euthanasia for some years now. The pro-euthanasia lobby, Exitus has been active since the early 1990s.

As in many countries, the public support for euthanasia is above the two-thirds mark. Support amongst the nation’s doctors has also been steadily increasing in recent years. In 2014 support for and opposition to stood at 46%.

The Finnish Medical Association remains opposed to the initiative. Association head Heikki Palvesaid that the majority of palliative care doctors working with dying patients object to legalizing 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

Timo Soini

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 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, 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 Finns Party is the second largest party in the four-party governing coalition in Finland and has a socially conservative base. Timo Soini, the chairperson of the Finns Party, has confirmed his intention to vote against the citizens’ initiative to legalize euthanasia in Finland. Amongst its coalition partners both the National Coalition and the Centre Party hold within their ranks majorities of socially conservative MPs.

It is not clear at this time when a bill will be tabled [introduced] for debate.

[1] The registered signatories now exceed 62,000 which should ensure that, after exclusion checks, that a formal bill is developed and that the parliament is compelled to move to a vote.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Russell’s blog and is reposted with permission.

Categories: Euthanasia