The Swedish Society RTVD (Right to Die with Dignity), which was founded in 1974, currently has some 2,500 members. This does not however reflect the fact that a considerably larger number of people sympathise with the aims and work of the society. The RTVD finds the developments in the Netherlands in the field of euthanasia encouraging although in respect of conditions in Sweden there is still a long way to go.
RTVD’s prime aim at present is to persuade the Government to pass a law giving a binding character to patients’ “Living Wills”. At present any patient has the right to refuse medical treatment, even if that refusal should lead to death. However the decision not to be treated any further when one can no longer express such a refusal, even if it were set out in an earlier “Living Will”, does not legally bind any doctor as yet, even if in a great number of cases such a “Living Will” has a guiding effect. The government has, on the other hand, established an advisory committee in order to make suggestions as to how to treat this question and it has in fact been suggested that Living Wills should be given a legal and binding status. However since general elections will take place in Sweden next year, it can be assumed that the government will not attend to this matter until after the elections.
The RTVD has been directing an active campaign on this issue towards the three pillars of opposition: politicians, the medical establishment, and the Church. An inquiry among the population in Sweden has shown that a majority – as high as 78% – is in favour of legislation that would make “Living Wills” binding and permit euthanasia. The society also considers it desirable that any person, while still being able to make their own clear decisions, should have the right to appoint a proxy to represent him at a time when he may have lost that capacity.
Source: Newsletter RtD-Europe, September 2005.