“I can’t leave alone.” Former Dutch prime minister and his wife decide to commit euthanasia together

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The Van Acht couple voting in the Dutch general election in September 1982. Wikimedia Commons/News 1

Former Dutch Prime Minister Dries van Acht and his wife passed away literally ‘at the same time in one day’ at their home on the 5th. He chose companion euthanasia at the age of 93. The ‘Rights Forum’ institute, founded by former Prime Minister Van Acht in 2009, announced that Mr. and Mrs. Van Acht, who had been married for 70 years, died “holding hands together” after battling illness.

Former Prime Minister Van Acht, who served for five years starting in 1977, was famous for showing affection for his wife, whom he met when they were students, by always calling her ‘my baby girl.’ He never fully recovered after suffering a stroke at a Palestinian memorial event in 2019. Afterwards, Mrs. Eugenie’s health also worsened. The Rights Forum reported that the two had told each other, “We cannot leave alone.” The surviving family includes three children.

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The Netherlands, which became the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia in 2002, carries out euthanasia when six criteria are met, including that the patient is experiencing unbearable pain, that there is no hope of treatment, and that the patient clearly states the will to die. In 2022, 8,720 people will choose euthanasia in the Netherlands.

Even in the Netherlands, companion euthanasia was carried out for the first time four years ago. It started with 13 couples in 2020 and is showing an increase, more than doubling to 29 couples in 2022. Most of it took place at home. To ensure that the two people voluntarily made a prudent choice, the medical staff must ask the doctor of each person individually before proceeding.

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Elke Svart, a spokesperson for the Dutch Euthanasia Center, explained to the British daily Guardian why companion euthanasia is rare, saying, “It is extremely unlikely that two people will suffer extreme pain at the same time, have no hope of being cured, and will want to die together.”

Former Prime Minister Van Acht was almost the first person in the Netherlands to publicly advocate for Palestine. He grew up in a Catholic family, entered politics as a member of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU), and served successively as Minister of Justice, Prime Minister, and Minister of Foreign Affairs. After realizing the seriousness of the Palestinian issue while on a pilgrimage with his wife in 1999, he began engaging in related activities and left the party in 2021.

Source: Donga

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