Danish prime minister’s words on euthanasia get Scandinavia’s attention

27-09-2023

Northern Europe

CNE.news

Denmark’s prime Minister Mette Frederiksen spoke out her support for active euthanasia. Photo EPA, Olivier Matthys

When Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, voiced her support on legalising euthanasia, other Scandinavian countries took notice.

In Sweden, the association Right to a Dignified Death (RTVD) declared on its website that they “hoped to be pulled forward by Denmark in that area,” according to a Kristeligt Dagblad report.

Staffan Bergström who is a member of the Court for a dignified death, says that he hopes Sweden will adopt an “Oregon model,” which is similar to what is used in Oregon, United States. The “Oregon model” refers to doctors prescribing sleeping pills for patients who have up to six months to live and want to end their lives.

“It is the recognition of the express and well-considered will of a sick person that I react against,” he said.

Positive

According to a recent survey, more Swedes are in favour of voluntary euthanasia. Approximately 80 per cent had “positive” or “maybe positive” views towards the practice. As for doctors, at least half were in support of it in 2020 compared to one out of every third doctor in 2007.

Denmark’s support has also travelled to Finland. As referenced in a thesis by Åbo Akademi, approximately, one in five priests in the Finnish church possess positive attitudes regarding euthanasia. While several doctors remain positive of the practice, the Finnish Medical Association stands in active opposition. At least three parties, Christian Democrats, the Greens, and the Liberal Alliance are in favour of euthanasia, according to the paper.

While the Danish prime minister’s announcement has garnered support in most of Scandinavia, Norway continues to be an exception. Although the nation’s Human Ethical Association has brought up a few examples on active euthanasia, it continues to be a “non-topic” among the general population, says Emil André Erstad from the Norwegian newspaper, Vårt Land.

“Active euthanasia is a signal that not all lives are worth living. It puts weak groups under pressure and lowers respect for life. Denmark should say no,” the former adviser to the Christian People’s Party said.

Dog

Recently, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen elaborated on her support for euthanasia after referencing a letter on the loss of a woman’s family member and her dog.

“I can hardly say it, but now I do it anyway. She talked about the sadness that the parting with the close family member, who had been in pain, had been troubled and chaotic,” she said in an interview with Weekendavisen, which was quoted in another Kristeligt Dagblad article.

When it came to euthanising the woman’s dog, the procedure proved to be “peaceful and controlled”.

Comparison

Lise-Lotte Andersen, chairwoman of the Hospice Leaders' Association, says that one cannot make such a comparison in bringing up euthanasia. She also believes that the prime minister’s words represent the perspective of the “healthy” and not the sick.

“I have also heard the comparison in the debate. It is very sad that you equate the killing of a dog with a human. At the hospice, we see no need for active euthanasia. We support people to live the life they have left. When you are not sick, you think of illness as an intolerable life situation that you could not even imagine. When you get sick, the situation becomes more tolerable,” she said.

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