Ex-Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Spouse Choose Assisted Death

Dries Van Agt, who held the position of Prime Minister in the Netherlands from 1977 to 1982, and had faced condemnation from Dutch watchdog groups for alleged antisemitic views in recent years, made the decision to undergo assisted death alongside his wife last Monday at the age of 93!

The announcement of the double-euthanasia was made on Sunday by Van Agt’s organization, Rights Forum. This organization was established by Van Agt with the primary aim of opposing what it perceives as “blind support for Israel” in the public and political discourse of the Netherlands.

The Netherlands legalized euthanasia in 2002 for individuals experiencing “unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement.” Van Agt’s choice to undergo assisted death has sparked discussions not only about his political legacy but also about the broader ethical and moral dimensions of euthanasia, a subject that remains a topic of debate in various societies around the world.

The individual’s request for euthanasia must be made sincerely and with unwavering conviction. In such situations, a person can ask a physician to administer a lethal drug, typically done at home, with the intention of ending their life. It’s essential to note that euthanasia is distinct from physician-assisted suicide, where a medical professional provides a lethal drug to the individual, who then self-administers it.

Following any instance of euthanasia or assisted suicide, a mandatory reporting to a regional review committee is required. If the committee determines that the doctor failed to exercise due care, the physician could face imprisonment for up to 12 years.

A Record of 8,501 Euthanasias Performed Across Nation In 2022

According to Statista data, in 2022, there were 8,501 instances of euthanasia, 186 cases of physician-assisted suicides, and 33 occurrences of a combination of both in the Netherlands. Collectively, these procedures accounted for approximately 5% of all deaths in the country that year.

In 2023, the Netherlands gained international attention by announcing an expansion of its criteria, allowing doctors to consider euthanasia requests from terminally ill children for whom palliative care provides no relief. This extension applies to estimated 5-10 children annually. Minors aged 12 and above have the right to request euthanasia, and in very rare cases, with parental consent, their requests are considered and may be granted.

In principle, sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds are not required to obtain parental consent, but the involvement of their parents in the decision-making process is deemed necessary, as stated on the country’s website.

Van Agt Was A Vocal Opponent Of Israel, Facing Accusations Of Antisemitism

Van Agt later in his life prominently engaged with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, drawing condemnation from Jewish and other organizations that labeled him an antisemite. He consistently defended Hamas and individual terrorists.

In 2008, the former prime minister addressed a rally featuring a televised speech by a Hamas official. During his role as justice minister in the 1970s, Van Agt invoked his “Aryan” heritage to justify plans to pardon four Nazi war criminals based on health reasons.

In 2022, Van Agt asserted that settlers in the West Bank had poisoned a three-year-old Palestinian girl, a claim not confirmed by B’Tselem, the primary Israeli organization documenting alleged human rights violations. CIDI, the Netherlands’ main antisemitism watchdog, denounced the accusation as a blood libel. In 2017, the Central Jewish Board of the Netherlands declared Van Agt an antisemite.

The Rights Forum, established by Van Agt in 2009, actively lobbies Dutch politicians and representatives to challenge Israeli policy in the UN and International Criminal Court. It alleges “violations of international law and human rights in Israel and Palestine,” with international law and human rights as its explicit reference framework.

However, the Rights Forum has faced criticism from pro-Israel groups like NGO Monitor, particularly for a consistent pattern of rejecting allegations or definitions of antisemitism that the group deems politicized. In 2023, the group accused the Dutch ambassador to Israel of “going too far” when he labeled a shooting attack, in which a 21-year-old resident of East Jerusalem killed seven people and wounded two more, as antisemitic.

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