Former Dutch prime minister, wife die in double euthanasia procedure

February 12, 2024

A former Dutch prime minister and his wife have committed suicide by euthanasia. 

Dries van Agt - who led the Netherlands from 1977 to 1982 - and his wife Eugenie, both 93 years old, chose to end their lives together rather than live apart.

The former prime minister was a Roman Catholic and was a well-known leader in conservative political parties like the Catholic People's Party and Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA.)

But Agt drifted to the left later in life.

Prime minister dies

His death was announced by the Rights Forum, a pro-Palestine group he founded after what he described as a "conversion" experience while visiting Israel.

The group said Agt “never checked whether his own views are completely in line with those of a party or institution."

Agt eventually left his former party, Christian Democratic Appeal, over its failure to acknowledge the "immense suffering inflicted on the Palestinian people," the Rights Forum said.

After suffering a brain hemorrhage in 2019, Agt considered euthanasia in case life became unbearable, the group said.

"His health became more and more fragile, and he wanted to focus his attention on his wife, children and grandchildren," the group added.

Euthanasia growing more common in the West

The rare double suicide highlights a small but growing trend in Western countries that have drifted from their Christian roots.

Canada, especially, has drawn attention for its permissive practices on euthanasia, which have been condemned as inhumane.

Dutch law requires a person undergoing euthanasia to suffer "unbearable" pain with no hope of improvement - so double euthanasia is still very rare.

According to a pro-euthanasia group in the Netherlands, there were 29 Dutch couples who died from joint euthanasia in 2022.

"We know from experience that people find it a beautiful thought. Especially after a lifetime together in which people have become fused with each other… You no longer have to experience the death of the other person, so you save yourself the grief," Dutch Association for a Voluntary End of Life (NVVE) said.

The Dutch monarchy praised Agt, who was known for his florid style.

“He took administrative responsibility in a turbulent time and managed to inspire many with his striking personality and colorful style,” King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima and Princess Beatrix said in a joint statement.

He is survived by three children.

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