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The bottom line is that we cannot find solutions that are social or societal, but only solutions that are individual. The state has to acknowledge that it is no longer needed in this case, or rather, that it is out of its depth. We are used to producing legislation for nearly everything, from simple misdemeanours to war crimes. Why is it that we do not have an overarching law that deals with terminally-ill people who intend to end their lives before it is clinically necessary? Because this would never do justice to each individual case. The American state of Oregon has the world's most progressive legislation. There, the development of hospices has the highest priority (it is an admission of failure that we do not have an extensive hospice network in Europe). Only if all means of palliative medical treatment are exhausted and the patient is still intent on ending his or her life can he or she then contact a doctor, who may then prescribe the substance required for such action. This final possibility is in reality hardly ever called upon. Having this request as an option, however, puts the minds of hundreds and thousands at ease, for they can say: if my condition deteriorates, I will have this alternative.

We should learn from such legislation. A law that attempts to give consideration to all shades of complexities and to cover all eventualities is doomed to fail. Even for myself, I have difficulty in constructing an argument that makes sense. I would like to have the right to keep a little phial in the basement, just in case, but that I would have a statutory right to do so scares me. We have to be able to tolerate this gap in the argument. It is important and right that we finally have a public debate on this. What happens at the moment of death, in the privacy of one's room, and how legal it is-that is not always the public's business.

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