Campaigners plan a new move to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland this year. The Netherlands, which legalised euthanasia in 2001, should offer a cautionary tale. My country expected a fall in backdoor euthanasia and the stopping of incremental extension by pinning down the definitions in law. But 20 years later it is clear we were profoundly mistaken.
There has been a massive greying of the lines, with a significant increase in life-shortening treatments that are not being called euthanasia. The term “unbearable suffering” has been expanded from physical suffering to include psychological and existential suffering — now even the term “tired of life” is sufficient. We have also seen the restrictions on age and mental competency shift.