Parliamentarians should not make it legal for doctors to directly kill vulnerable people on request, Danish ethicists have said.
Denmark’s Ethics Council decided it is “in principle impossible to establish proper regulation of euthanasia” and recommended to the Danish Parliament that the law remain unchanged.
In June 2023, the Parliament’s Health Committee called on the Council to report on euthanasia, after a petition forced the issue onto the parliamentary agenda.
The majority of council members said they did not consider it possible that “legislation can be developed which will be able to function properly” and at the same time “protect the lives and respect of those who are most vulnerable in society”.
They also pointed out that “euthanasia risks causing unacceptable changes to basic norms for society, the health care system and human outlook.
“The very existence of an offer of euthanasia will decisively change our ideas about old age, the coming of death, quality of life and what it means to take others into account.
“If euthanasia becomes an option, there is too great a risk that it will become an expectation aimed at special groups in society.”
Dutch ethicist Dr Theo A Boer, credited with helping the Danish inquiry, recently told the Irish Parliament that legalising euthanasia deceives society into believing that death is the answer for “all kinds of” suffering.
Speaking to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Assisted Dying, Dr Boer explained that he used to support his country’s euthanasia law before becoming “increasingly critical” after witnessing it in practice.
Dr Boer warned that once euthanasia is introduced for those deemed terminally ill, the list of eligible people expands as other groups claim it is ‘unjust’ not to be included.
“The legalisation of euthanasia”, he said, has “turned the whole landscape of dying, including our view of illness, suffering, ageing and care dependence, upside down.”