Dutch ex-minister who drafted euthanasia law found dead in garage

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 February, 2014, 10:39pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 February, 2014, 1:21am


Els Borst, a former health minister who drafted the Netherlands' 2002 law permitting euthanasia, has been found dead in her garage. She was 81.

Utrecht police spokesman Thomas Aling told state broadcaster NOS that police had not ruled out a natural cause of death, an accident or a crime, but had no reason to suspect a crime.

She was seen as recently as Saturday, at a function of her centrist D66 political party.

Borst was a medical academic who served as health minister from 1994 to 2002. She also drafted the legislation that permits the use of tissue from aborted fetuses for medical research.

The country's euthanasia law allows euthanasia when a person requests it, is suffering unbearably and has no chance of recovery. Two doctors must agree.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte praised Borst as "a wise professional, with clear and considered standpoints, who stood her ground".

"She won people over with her openness, mildness and honesty," he said.

Borst's viewpoints were often at odds with those of religious groups but enjoyed the approval of most Dutch voters.

Trying to prevent a measles epidemic in the Dutch Calvinist bible belt last year, she wrote an opinion piece
asking pastors and churchgoers to get vaccinated. "If everything is God's will, then so is the invention of the vaccine, just like the seatbelt," she said.