Former Dutch PM and his wife die by double euthanasia

On February 5, 2024, former Dutch Prime Minister Dries van Agt died holding hands with his wife Eugenie in his hometown of Nijmegen. Both were 93; the elderly couple chose to die by euthanasia. The Rights Forum, an organization founded by van Agt, released a statement on February 9: “He died together and hand in hand with his beloved wife Eugenie van Agt-Krekelberg … with whom he was together for more than seventy years, and whom he always continued to refer to as ‘my girl.’” According to the non-profit’s director, they “couldn’t live without each other.”

Unsurprisingly for a couple of advanced age, the van Agts had experienced health difficulties in the past several years, with the former prime minister suffering a brain hemorrhage in 2019 while delivering a speech on behalf of the Palestinian cause, to which he devoted the last two decades of his life. Press reports did not disclose his wife’s challenges, but instead emphasized that they wanted to die together in what is colloquially referred to as ‘duo euthanasia’—when a couple receives lethal injections simultaneously.

Andreas “Dries” van Agt served as prime minister of the Netherlands from 1977 until 1982; throughout his career, he served as both a leader of the Catholic People’s Party (KVP) and the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA). In 1999, after a visit to Israel, van Agt began advocating for the Palestinians—The Rights Forum advocates a “just and sustainable Dutch and European policy regarding the Palestine/Israel issue.” A joint statement released by King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima, and Princess Beatrix praised his “administrative responsibility in a turbulent time” and his “striking personality and colorful style.”

Notably, many obituaries and press reports expended great effort to portray the couple’s ‘duo euthanasia’ as a banal bit of information, with some headlines stating that the van Agts had “passed away,” declining to pass judgment on the joint suicide-by-doctor and normalizing the Dutch euthanasia regime as routine. A few decades ago—when van Agt was prime minister, for example—an elderly statesman and his wife committing suicide together with the assistance of a doctor would have horrified the country. Now, it is portrayed as a peaceful sendoff—a downright Dutch way of doing things.

That may well be the case. On April 1, 2002, the Netherlands became the first country in Europe since Nazi Germany to legalize euthanasia. Since then, the Dutch euthanasia regime has persistently expanded: in 2004, the Groningen Policy laid out the framework for euthanizing infants (who cannot consent); and, the rules have since been expanded to permit euthanasia for all children. Dutch people have been euthanized for alcoholism, blindness, depression, tinnitus, and even dementia—in that case, the woman could not remember having asked for euthanasia and had to be physically held down for the lethal injection.

There have been a number of couples who have chosen to die together by euthanasia over the past several years. One particularly high-profile case featured a healthy UK couple, and the former prime minister and his wife may be part of a trend. As the New York Post reported: “Duo euthanasia, or two people receiving a fatal injection simultaneously, is still relatively rare in the Netherlands but is slowly gaining more popularity … Twenty-nine couples opted for the paired death in 2022, up from 16 who chose it in 2021 and the 13 pairs the year before.” In 2018, a Canadian couple opted for ‘duo euthanasia’; they did cheery interviews about the decision scarcely a week before they died by lethal injection, also hand in hand.


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