The Final Act: An Ethical Analysis of Pia Dijkstra’s Euthanasia for a Completed Life

The Final Act: An Ethical Analysis of Pia Dijkstra’s Euthanasia for a Completed Life

Original Research

Open Access. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry (2021). Published online: 15 January 2021

T. J. Holzman

Abstract: Amongst other countries, the Netherlands currently allows euthanasia, provided the physician performing the procedure adheres to a strict set of requirements. In 2016, Second Chamber member Pia Dijkstra submitted a law proposal which would also allow euthanasia without the reason necessarily having any medical foundation; euthanasia on the basis of a completed life. The debate on this topic has been ongoing for over two decades, but this law proposal has made the discussion much more immediate and concrete. This paper considers the moral permissibility of Pia Dijkstra’s law proposal, focusing on the ethics of the implementation Dijkstra describes in her proposal. I argue that, at present, Dijkstra’s law proposal is unsuitable for implementation, due to a number of as of yet unaddressed problems, including the possible development of an ageist stigma and undue pressure on the profession of end-of-life coordinator. Perhaps adequate responses can be conceived to address these issues. However, the existence of a radically different, yet currently equally unacceptable position regarding the implementation of euthanasia for a completed life as proposed by fellow party member Paul Schnabel suggests it may be difficult to formulate an ethically acceptable implementation for this, in principle, ethically acceptable concept.

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