Monday, February 12, 2024

Even in death, we won't part

 Former Dutch Prime Minister Dries van Agt and his wife committed legally assisted suicide by simultaneous euthanasia this week, the non-profit organisation founded by the ex-Dutch leader has revealed.

Public broadcaster Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (NOS) reported on Friday that former Dutch Prime Minister Dries van Agt (93), who led the Netherlands from 1977 to 1982, and his wife Eugenie van Agt (93) opted on Monday to take their lives in a joint act of euthanasia, which is legally permitted under medical supervision in the Western European nation.

Gerard Jonkman, the director of The Rights Forum non-profit founded by Van Agt in 2009, said that the former prime minister had discussed the option of assisted suicide after suffering a brain haemorrhage in 2019, saying that he said it was an “option if life and suffering became unbearable.”

Since then, Van Agt’s health, as well as his wife’s, steadily declined, according to Jonkman, who said: “His health became more and more fragile, and he wanted to focus his attention on his wife, children and grandchildren.” He said that their decision to commit assisted suicide hand in hand came from a feeling that they “couldn’t live without each other”.

The couple, who were married for seven decades, were buried together on Thursday. The Dutch public broadcaster noted that assisted suicide was a curious decision by Van Agt, given that he was a lifelong Roman Catholic — a faith which preaches against suicide — and a former member of the socially conservative Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA).

However, Jonkman noted that the former prime minister was always “idiosyncratic” and that Van Agt “never checked whether his own views are completely in line with those of a party or institution.”

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