The ‘second proposal’

Reports following the euthanasia deaths of former Dutch Prime Minister, Dries van Agt and his wife, Eugenie on 5 February have – perhaps inadvertently – highlighted the problems with ‘euthanasia for couples.’

A media release from The Rights Forum, an advocacy group founded by van Agt, described the deaths as follows:

“He died together and hand in hand with his beloved wife Eugenie van Agt-Krekelberg, the support and support with whom he was together for more than seventy years, and whom he always continued to refer to as 'my girl'.” 

In an interview with The NOS, The Rights Forum director, Gerard Jonkman, said the pair “couldn’t live without each other.”

Hailed by activists as a fairytale ending to a lifelong love story, a ‘second proposal’ is much less romantic than the first because of the serious potential for abuse and manipulation it holds.

How would ‘the proposal’ for a joint euthanasia death begin?

“Hey honey, you know how you say you don’t think you could live without me? I have an idea!”

What type of a reaction would a refusal of ‘the proposal’ elicit?

“I thought you loved me. You always said that I’m the only thing that gives your life true meaning. I guess it was all lies.”

The not-so-hidden emotional blackmail is: “Prove how much you love me by dying with me.”

In places like The Netherlands and Canada, where euthanasia eligibility has moved far from terminal illnesses to include suffering from disability or chronic illness as well, the potential for the abuse of ‘euthanasia for couples’ is readily seen.

Don’t be fooled; there is nothing romantic about it.