Conflict over assisted suicide in Estonia

The case of a terminally ill woman suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease who wants to end her life in Switzerland by means of assisted suicide has sparked a debate in Estonia. Commentators discuss the complexity of the issue and put clear demands to politicians.

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Postimees (EE) /

Life belongs to the one who lives it

People must have the final say over their lives, writes former judge of the European Court of Human Rights Rait Maruste in Postimees:

“Who does the right to life belong to? A strange question. Of course the right to life belongs to those who live it, and no one else. Not other people, institutions, parents, family, rulers, religious leaders, religions, or societies. Not even the state. In a free society people have the final say over their own lives. ... Assisted suicide is a complex issue because it requires the help of another individual. To protect the helper and family from feelings of guilt or accusations and to ensure that a person decides voluntarily to end his or her life we need clear principles, concrete rules and procedures, as well as neutral observers.”

Õhtuleht (EE) /

Care system must be improved

The former head of the Estonian Society for Patients with Muscle Disorders, Külli Reinup, warns in Õhtuleht against accepting lethal medication as a quick solution:

“All parties should answer a practical question in the election campaign: How can we build a functional care system in the next four years? One that guarantees humane treatment at life's end for those concerned and their families. Wouldn't it be better for these people just to take a pill and end their lives? some will ask. After all, that would be cheaper for themselves and for the state. Five months of suffering in a nursing home costs as much as a ticket to Switzerland. ... No, no, and no! Because then we would never think about how to improve the social system. And people must not be driven to commit suicide by a deficient social system. If that were the case the state would have ceased to serve the people.”