Three members of the pro-euthanasia group Cooperatie Laatste Wil (CLW, Last Wish Cooperative) in the Netherlands have been arrested for trafficking a suicide powder and selling it illegally. Under the law, a person who “deliberately assists or provides the means to commit suicide” can face up to three years in prison.
According to BioEdge, Alex Schot, 28, Wim van Dijk, 78, and Jos van Wijk, 73, were arrested for illegally selling Mittel X, or Substance X to at least dozens of people who wanted to commit suicide. Dutch News reports two other members may have been arrested as well, including a 72-year-old woman and a 78-year-old man. While euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are legal in the Netherlands, there are rules that must be followed, including one requiring euthanasia or assisted suicide to be carried out with the aid of a doctor. CLW however, promotes “assisted suicide and self-euthanasia without the intervention of doctors.”
Exit International reported that the “ultimate goal of CLW is the ‘secure management’ of a small vault containing ‘last will pills’ for its members to use ‘at their discretion.'”
While van Wijk has maintained that CLW does not break the law, van Dijk has openly told the media that he has sold Mittel X illegally to more than 100 individuals, said BioEdge. Though he did not give the police a statement when questioned, in an article published in De Volkskrant, he said:
I am saying here openly that I did this and I call on others to do the same. I want social unrest to become so great that the legal system cannot ignore it. Civil disobedience is a lawful means of achieving a legitimate aim. The same is true of the abortion law. I don’t really care if they arrest me or put me in jail. I damn well want something to happen.
While BioEdge states that some rules are often overlooked regarding euthanasia in the Netherlands, the requirement that a doctor is the one ending a person’s life or supplying the pills for a person to take his own life is more strictly enforced.
CLW doesn’t want to just stop at legalized euthanasia. The group sees suicide as a fundamental human right and believes that anyone should be legally allowed to help anyone else to kill themselves. Though the leading right-to-die group in the Netherlands, NVVE (Dutch Association for Voluntary Euthanasia), said it follows the laws concerning euthanasia, it also believes that suicide is a fundamental human right. In a joint article with CLW, the two pro-death groups called for “a government-regulated, reliable means of ending life that people can use deliberately to choose a careful and dignified suicide.” They called the wait for assisted suicide “a prison sentence of up to three years.”
“[T]he question is no longer whether self-determination is a good idea, but how we can arrange that self-determination,” the organizations said. “Should there be an age limit? A waiting time between order and delivery? Does the drug have to be in a locker that helps prevent impulse use? How do I know that a drug is reliable? These are questions that deserve attention now.”
However, a study from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing found that within two years, 72% of those who said they wanted to die no longer felt that way — meaning the three-year wait for euthanasia in the Netherlands is a good thing. During that same two-year period, the feelings of loneliness and depression that were leading individuals to wish for death had also resolved.
People who seek assisted suicide do not typically do so because they want a so-called “dignified” death, but because they are depressed and feeling lonely and hopeless, and fear being a burden to their loved ones. But with the right support and mental health care, these feelings can be alleviated along with the wish to die. Instead, CLW wants to arm them with suicide drugs, just in case.
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