Denmark quietly debates euthanasia

Euthanasia is a hot topic in Denmark as well. The Danish Parliament’s advisory panel on ethics, the Etisk Råd, seems to be slowing warming to the idea, according to an article in the Copenhagen Post. In 1997 and in 2003 the panel dismissed the idea. However, at its May meeting this year, there was a heated debate.

Mickey Gjerris, a panel member who is a professor of bioethics at the University of Copenhagen, supports euthanasia. “We need to help people to live and to die,” he said. “It’s rare that we need to kill people, but I could imagine situations where it’s the right thing to do. And if that’s the case, you need to do it, because it’s the lesser of two evils.” He is in favour of resolving legislative resistance with an agreement that the courts would acquit people who were changed with assisting suicide. This is much like the system which existed in the Netherlands before euthanasia was legalised in 2002.

However, the chairman of the Danish Medical Association’s ethics committee, Poul Jaszczak, takes a completely different stand. “It’s never been a doctor’s role to take people’s lives. I would fear that doctors would become hangmen, which would be utterly at odds with what a doctor expects his role to be.” ~ Copenhagen Post, June 8

This article is published by Michael Cook and BioEdge.org under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

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