A new survey indicates that seven of 10 Norwegians are now positive towards euthanasia, or what they call aktiv dødshjelp (literally, active help to die). They’d still have to travel abroad to receive it, though, because euthanasia remains illegal in Norway.
Anna Kirah, leader of the organization Retten til en verdig død (The right to a dignified death), is now seeking new public debate on the issue, also after personal experience. Her own 87-year-old mother, who lives in the state of Washington in the US, opted against treatment when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and received help to die.
“Mama was so happy during her last 19 days, when we were all celebrating her,” Kirah told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “We made food together, played together and cried together.”
That’s not an option in Norway because of opposition from the medical community and most politicians. Kirah is working, however, towards making Norway the next country in Europe to allow what she calls “assisted dying,” after among others Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal.
She has broad support, according to a survey conducted by the Center for Medical Ethics at the University of Oslo on attitudes towards euthanasia. Fully 70 percent those questioned were positive when faced with a deathly illness and short life-expectancy. They still face opposition from Legeforeningen (the Norwegian Medical Association), however, on the basis of doctors’ own ethics aimed as saving lives, not ending them.
An informal survey conducted by NRK, asking the sole question of whether assisted dying should be allowed in Norway, resulted in 75 percent of 7,235 people responding “yes,” 15 percent responding “no” and the remainder uncertain.