Right to Die-NL (NVVE in Dutch) was founded in 1973 in Friesland, a district in the north of the Netherlands. That year Dr Postma went to court and was found guilty of voluntary euthanasia. She received a one week suspended sentence. There was a public outcry. The Dutch public argued that a doctor should be able to terminate the life of someone who requests such an action. A small but powerful group bonded together, firstly to support Dr Postma, but secondly to strive for the possibilities of euthanasia. The NVVE was born.
Nowadays, the society has a membership in excess of 143,000 members. Its office is based in Amsterdam where 20 professionals plan and co-ordinate activities. All over Holland more than 145 volunteers also work for the society.
The only source of income the society has, is the membership fee of € 17.50 that members pay yearly. People on a minimum income can pay a reduced fee. Sometimes, the NVVE receives donations or legacies. No governmental aid is asked or given.
- The advancement of an as broad as possible use and social acceptance of the existing legal possibilities towards a free choice for the ending of life.
- The advancement of the social acceptance and the legal regulation of a free choice for ending of life in situations which are not within the scope of the existing legal possibilities.
- Striving towards the recognition of a free choice for the ending of life and assistance with it as a human right.
- Relevant, a magazine, issued four times a year
- Many brochures about various subjects
- Lectures and workshops all over the country (and occasionally abroad) to groups varying from universities to local Rotary gatherings
- Member Support Service
- Issuing "advance directions/living wills": documents in which members can state their wishes regarding euthanasia
- Issuing "Refusal of treatment"-documents, in which members can forbid medical treatments to be done to them. Dutch law states that if no consent is given for a treatment, it is not allowed to be carried out.
- Being present at relevant congresses and seminars with an information-stand, in order to inform the public about the NVVE and euthanasia in general
The professionals of the NVVE are often consulted by other societies or the government concerning euthanasia and subjects related to assisted suicide as they set a high value on our opinion or co-operation.
In 1996 the NVVE released a proposal for a change in the Dutch Penal Code, article 293 and 294. The proposal was conceived in plain and thorough terms and presented to the leaders of political parties. After the elections in 1994, the parliament arranged an agreement not to change these articles in the duration of this parliament. Therefore, all our hopes were for the new parliament. In 1998 we finally knew the politicians had the guts to change what 85% of the Dutch public wanted them to change and make it legally possible for a doctor to perform euthanasia or assist with suicide. On April 10, 2001 the Dutch Upper House passed the Euthanasia Bill, named Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act, earlier approved by the Lower House of Parliament on November 28, 2000. This Act entered into force on April 1, 2002.
Contrary to national and international rumours, the NVVE does not prescribe any medications and has no doctors to help members to die. The NVVE shows people the official path and provides them, on request, with important documents. No more, no less.