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05 March, 2024
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Former Dutch PM and wife's joint 'double euthanasia'

Together until the end: Dutch couple's unconventional farewell


In a poignant farewell, former Dutch Prime Minister Dries van Agt and his wife, Eugenie, passed away together in what is described as a rare ''double euthanasia.'' Both aged 93, the couple, who had been inseparable for over 70 years, were laid to rest together on Thursday, as reported by The Telegraph.

The Rights Forum, a human rights charity founded by van Agt, conveyed the heartfelt departure, stating, "He died hand in hand with his beloved wife Eugenie van Agt-Krekelberg, the support and anchor with whom he was together for more than 70 years and whom he always continued to refer to as ‘my girl’." Their enduring bond traces back to their student days at Nijmegen.

Known for his idiosyncratic persona, van Agt served as prime minister from 1977 to 1982, endearing himself to the public with his humor and even participating in cycling events like the Tour de France. Despite being labeled a "Jesuit" and a "mystic" by political adversaries, van Agt's evolution towards left-wing ideologies in his later years was notable, notably opposing his party's alliance with Gert Wilders' PVV in 2010.

Van Agt's outspoken stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict further distinguished him, with his criticisms extending to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he branded "a war criminal" in 2016. His legacy also reflects the shifting landscape of Dutch politics, as he navigated evolving perspectives within his Christian Democrat party.

The concept of "double euthanasia," although uncommon, reflects the liberal euthanasia laws prevalent in the Low Countries. In 2020, there were 26 recorded instances, rising to 58 in 2022, out of a total of 9000 euthanasia cases. Legalized since 2002 under specific conditions, euthanasia and assisted suicide have become integral components of end-of-life care in the Netherlands.

Jozef van der Heijden, a former MP from van Agt's party, and his wife Gonnie also opted for double euthanasia in 2016, underscoring the deeply personal decisions individuals make regarding their end-of-life preferences.

Constance de Vries of the Euthanasia Expertise Center shed light on the emotional dynamics underlying such choices, stating, "Many people dread the prospect of having to continue on their own, especially when they are 80 and no longer so flexible."

The passing of Dries van Agt and his wife Eugenie not only marks the end of a remarkable partnership but also prompts reflection on the complexities of life, love, and the choices individuals make in their final moments.

[With information sourced from The Telegraph]

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