MP Krišjānis Feldmans: People want to legalize euthanasia because of poor quality health care

With the decision of the Saeima Presidium, the citizens' initiative on the legalization of euthanasia in Latvia has started the way up the legislative ladder. Traditionally, the conservative segment of the political spectrum opposes such a solution to incurable diseases, but the New Conservative Party (Jaunā konservatīvā partija) intends to support the further development of this initiative in order to prove in the discussions that the problem is not incurable diseases, but poor quality health care.
24.02.2021. Jānis Lasmanis
©Kaspars KRAFTS, F64 Photo Agency

The public initiative portal has collected 10 thousand signatures on the initiative to legalize euthanasia in Latvia. The collection of signatures started in March 2017. The aim of the initiative "For a Good Death" is to legalize euthanasia in Latvia.

"Euthanasia is intended to cause the death of another person to alleviate their inevitable and irreversible pain and suffering. It is used when a terminally ill person suffers from unbearable pain or is in deep unconsciousness with no hope of recovery, and it enables a person to end their life with dignity without becoming a burden to themselves and others,” says the author of the initiative Pēteris Buks.

Krišjānis Feldmans, a member of the board of the New Conservative Party, has a different view on this issue.

Do you think euthanasia is acceptable in the context of conservative values?

It is the case that historically conservatives have been against euthanasia, but, of course, time has passed and various aspects have also emerged that need to be discussed.

The fact is that the situation in developed countries, where these issues are more debated, should be slightly separated from the situation in Latvia. As conservatives, we wonder whether it is not the case that this issue has become relevant because there are significant problems with the availability and quality of health care. For example, in social care and palliative care.

In the case of Latvia, one could even hypothesize that, given the obvious problems in these areas - almost everyone has experienced them for themselves or for their loved ones - it is clear that people are trying to solve the problem in the simplest possible way by committing assisted suicide.

I think that a responsible policy would be one that, at the very least, seeks to address the root causes of this powerlessness of people, which occurs in certain circumstances when they are willing to take their own lives voluntarily.

If a decision is taken to push such a bill, what do you think should be the procedure?

The Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Committee will probably invite experts on both health and social and moral issues, and this is likely to result in giving the Ministry of Welfare or Health some task. I doubt that the Saeima will create a law by itself, because it is an extremely complicated process.

Will the New Conservatives have to stick to party discipline in this vote, or will they be able to follow their own convictions in the vote?

If it is a citizens' initiative, the Conservatives respect civic activism. All initiatives that have come to the Saeima, except those that are in clear conflict with our principles, for example, on occupation issues, are referred to the Mandates, Ethics and Submissions Committee.

In this case, I see no reason why it could not be referred to the commission. Especially because it is a very complex issue and there is a need for a public debate on the problems and causes. I expect that this will reveal that actually, the problem and the causes are completely different.


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