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Citizen’s Initiative Finland voted down in Parliament

The Finnish citizen’s Initiative to have legalisation of euthanasia in Finland along the lines of the BeNeLux model has finally failed to pass Parliament.

A special Social Affairs and Health Committee of the Finnish Parliament first heard experts on the issue in a couple of sessions in March 2018 (I, Rob Jonquière was invited for one of them) considering pro’s and con’s, balancing palliative care and aid-in-dying. The commission turned the initiative down but instead asked the Government “to appoint a broadly based expert group to define  good care of patients in their terminal stage, to assess the scope of the patients’ autonomy as well as the need for a regulation of terminal care and euthanasia.” The Committee also asks the Government to adopt a bill to amend the current legislation in case the expert group would favour that.

Though the result was disappointing, the fact that the Commission adopted the report unanimously made it compulsory for Parliament to  discuss and vote the Citizen’s initiative. This debate was held on 3 May 2018: after 3 hours 129 parliamentarians voted against (with 60 in favour). The minister in charge promised the establishment of the suggest Expert Group.

The next opportunity to renew the discussions will be after elections in April 2019.