A citizens’ initiative on “active death help” or euthanasia has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Finnish parliament by a vote of 128 to 60
In 2010, Palliative Medicine published a study querying physicians’ attitudes towards euthanasia in Finland. The study revealed that only a minority (19%) of respondents were of the opinion that euthanasia should be legalised. Nearly all respondents felt that requests for euthanasia would be decreased if proper training was provided on end-of-life issues and palliative care.
Only a minority of the physicians thought that the current level of training in palliative care and end-of-life issues is satisfactory.
Eight years later, a citizens’ initiative on “active death help” or euthanasia has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Finnish parliament, by a vote of 128 to 60 against the initiative. Instead, a comprehensive investigation into palliative end-of-life care will be carried out, the Finnish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet reported.
In a statement on their website, the Finnish Medical Association opposed the initiative, and defended doctors’ freedom of conscience not to participate in euthanasia, stating “The Finnish Medical Association opposes legalization of euthanasia. The Medical Association also opposes the obligation for doctors as a profession to undertake measures whose primary purpose is to accelerate the death of a patient.”
However, a 2015 Journal of Medical Ethics article reports the finding that the attitudes of Finnish physicians towards active euthanasia became considerably more approving between 2003 and 2013.
On the other hand, the study also reports that there was no significant change in physicians’ willingness to practice euthanasia if it became legal, which remains low (around 21% of respondents to this survey). The results of the study also present a possible increase of 4.5% in respondents claiming they would report a colleague to the authorities for practising active euthanasia.
Common Sense Prevails
Commenting on the vote, Antonia Tully, Director of Campaigns at SPUC said: “Obviously we are pleased to hear that common sense has prevailed in the Finnish parliament. Legalising euthanasia is a retrograde step for any country to take. So, well done to the 128 Finnish MPs who voted against euthanasia.
“However, the danger is not yet past. The working party proposed by the Finnish parliament to look into legislative changes to end of life care, is bound to be subject to intense lobbying and propaganda. The only way to safeguard everyone at the final stages of life is to outlaw any practices which deliberately aim to end a person’s life prematurely.
“Bringing about a person’s death is never a loving response to illness or disability. Pro-lifers in Finland must make their voices heard, in particular by their MPs.”