A new survey reveals that seven out of ten Norwegians now support euthanasia, or aktiv ddshjelp (literally active death assistance). However, they would still need to travel abroad to obtain it, as euthanasia remains illegal in Norway.
Anna Kirah, the leader of the organization Retten til en verdig dd (The Right to a Dignified Death), is now pursuing a new public debate on the subject, in part due to her own personal experience. Her 87-year-old mother in the U.S. state of Washington, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer, declined treatment and received assistance to die.
“Mama was so happy during her last 19 days when we were all celebrating her,” Kirah told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “We prepared food, played, and shed tears together.”
In Norway, this is not an option due to opposition from the medical community and the majority of legislators. However, Kirah is working to make Norway the fifth European nation to permit what she terms “assisted dying,” following Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Portugal.
According to a survey conducted by the Center for Medical Ethics at the University of Oslo on attitudes toward euthanasia, she has broad support. Seventy percent of those surveyed were optimistic when confronted with a fatal illness and limited life expectancy. However, they continue to encounter opposition from Legeforeningen (the Norwegian Medical Association) on the grounds that doctors’ own ethics emphasize saving lives rather than ending them.
An informal survey conducted by NRK asked the sole question of whether assisted dying should be legalized in Norway. Seventy-five percent of the 7,235 respondents answered “yes,” while fifteen percent responded no,” and the remaining respondents were unsure.