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Finland set to debate euthanasia

A citizen’s initiative to raise the issue of euthanasia in the Finnish Parliament (Eduskunta) has passed the requisite 50,000 signatories required to trigger a parliamentary debate.


As with all Finnish Citizen’s Initiatives, the ‘Euthanasia initiative on behalf of a good death’ includes a prescription of the form of the Bill to be debated. In the model presented, euthanasia would be a possibility for people who experience an incurable fatal disease and whoms death is expected in the near future. Esko Olavi Seppänen, former Finnish MP, is the sponsor for the initiative.


In Finland, a Citizen’s Initiative must collect 50,000 signatories within 6 months. These signatories have to be verified on validity. In two weeks’ time, the ‘Euthanasia initiative on behalf of a good death’ initiative already had 30,000 supporters and the numbers were rising to 63,000 at the end of 2016. Since the initiative already has more than enough support, the initiators decided to stop collecting signatories to speed up the time-consuming process. They are planning on formally present a full proposal to Parliament in February. After that, Parliament can set up a committee to process the initiative further.


Although the initiative has such strong support, it still has a long way to go. The Finnish Medical Association remains opposed. Association head Heikki Palve said that the majority of palliative care doctors working with dying patients object to legalising euthanasia. Timo Soini, the chairperson of the Finns Party, has confirmed his intention to vote against the citizens’ initiative to legalise euthanasia in Finland.


Besides that, the Parliamentary committee has the right to decide to stop processing the initiative without even presenting it to Parliament. However, the initiative shows great support for the legalisation of euthanasia in Finland. Within two months, almost 1,5% of all eligible voters signed the initiative. Penttilä from EXITUS Ry says a positive outcome is not expected before the end of 2017.