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Couple Gets Assisted Suicide Together

Content warning: This story includes discussion of assisted suicide.

An elderly couple in the Netherlands decided to get euthanized together, a bittersweet end to a long-lasting relationship.

Monique and Loes were 74 and 88 years old. The pair, who suffered from dementia and muscular disease respectively, died while holding hands, Agence France-Press reports. Their final words were "I love you."

The 77 year-old Dutch doctor Bert Keizer is no stranger to euthanasia. According to the report, he has helped more than 125 individuals to die.

The latest case, however, was an outlier, given that he was assisting with the deaths of two individuals at the same time, something he's only done twice so far.

To proponents of the practice, it's a dignified way of passing.

"They kissed, said 'thank you' and 'I love you,'" Keizer told AFP. "We looked at each other and said: 'Are you ready girls?'. 'Yes, let's go,' they replied."

Voluntary assisted death was legalized in the Netherlands over 20 years ago, making it the first European nation to do so. Belgium passed its own law legalizing euthanasia in 2002.

As of last year, the two countries are among five other nations in the world that have passed human euthanasia policies.

The practice requires carefully considered and strict conditions in the Netherlands. For instance, patients have to prove that they're opting in on their own free will, which isn't always straightforward.

"It's of course unusual that two lives meet all these conditions at exactly the same moment," Keizer told AFP.

The number of people choosing euthanasia in the Netherlands has risen over the last few years, per the report. Out of the 8,720 people who died by euthanasia in the Netherlands in 2022, only 29 were couples.

In 2018, former Dutch prime minister Dries Van Agt chose to die by euthanasia alongside his wife in February.

Despite the clear advantages of assisted suicide, euthanasia remains illegal in the majority of the US. Ten states, including DC, have legalized medical aid in dying (MAID), a practice in which a physician can choose to end the life of a patient with a terminal illness with a lethal dose of a prescription drug.

Unsurprisingly, the extent to which euthanasia is legal has proven controversial. In Canada, for instance, where the practice has been legal since 2016, experts have fiercely debated whether to expand the government's MAID program to people who have a mental illness. Last month, a parliamentary committee recommended delaying the expansion for a second time to 2027.

In the case of the Dutch couple, however, it was a largely uncomplicated end to many years of suffering.

"I can't live without Monique," Loes told her partner, as quoted by AFP.

"And I depend on you," Monique answered. "So let's go together."

More on euthanasia: Famed Director Dies by Assisted Suicide