A former Prime Minister of Netherlands, Dries van Agt, and his wife Eugenie, both passed away in a ‘double euthanasia’ on February 5. They were both aged 93.
Experts say their assisted deaths have shed light on an unsettling trend of couples taking their own lives together.
Van Agt and his wife Eugenie, who had been together for 66 years, died together “hand in hand,” Dutch media reported.
Both had been in fragile health for some time after van Agt suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2019, and felt it was better to pass together given their advanced age and declining physical state.
Van Agt was known for his archaic references and grandiose language, as well as his passion for cycling. He was forced to quit that hobby in 2019 after a fall.
Van Agt’s biographer, Peter Bootsma, said the politician suffered from after-effects of his brain haemorrhage, reporting that ‘his ability to speak also deteriorated’.
“But the way his life ended is something that characterises the man,” Mr. Bootsma added.
“He was stubborn and autonomous until the end. I sometimes thought: they have been married for 65 years, what if one of the two is no longer there?”
Van Agt’s political friend Hans Wiegel visited the former Christian Democratic Appeal [CDA] leader a few days before his death and was also at the farewell service.
“The two of them resigned,” says the former deputy prime minister. “He knew it was his last birthday [February 2]. The farewell service was very moving and beautiful. He was my dear friend, we had intensive contact until the end. You could always laugh with him.”
But the move has reignited the debate over euthanasia in the Netherlands.
Euthanasia has been legal in The Netherlands since 2002 for those experiencing ‘unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement’.
But to be granted the right to euthanasia, a patient must secure the consent of two independent doctors, both of whom must agree their case meets detailed criteria.
The patient in question must also be deemed to be ‘mentally competent’ to make the decision to euthanise – something which poses a problem for patients suffering from dementia who request euthanasia but are not said to be of sound mind.
Euthanasia remains illegal in almost all EU states, with the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg remaining the only three countries that offer legal assisted dying in the bloc.
Of these three states, the laws are most relaxed in Belgium, where there is no minimum age requirement.
Children can access assisted dying in Belgium, provided they are deemed old enough to understand, and have written consent from their parents.
In the Netherlands, children younger than 12 cannot yet be euthanised, and must have parental consent up until the age of 16.
In Luxembourg, euthanasia can only be requested by those aged 18 and over.
Assisted dying is also available in Switzerland, but the rules have been tightened in recent years.
Source: Daily Mail