Sidmennt hosts important conference about dying with dignity

Sidmennt, the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association, is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2015. Many events are scheduled throughout the year. The past year and a half has seen Sidmennt’s membership grow spectacularly from 300 to just under 1200 after the organization was granted equal legal and funding status with religions in May 2013.

Líknardauði_2015_Viðar-Guðmundsson

On January 29th, Sidmennt held an important conference about dying with dignity – euthanasia. In our 25 year history this was likely the most important and relevant meeting on an ethical subject which we have ever hosted. It was very well attended and received enormous media attention during this entire week with almost every talk and call-in show on radio, TV, and news broadcasts devoting air time to it, and articles appeared in every newspaper. The goal of our conference was to open up discussion in Icelandic society on this hitherto taboo topic. People at the conference were very moved and appreciative. The event was video recorded and will be posted on the Net.

First a Siðmennt board member and philosopher discussed the views of a variety of philosophers on the subject. Then 2 women shared their very personal experiences. One woman’s husband who had incurable brain cancer chose to travel to Switzerland and with the help of the Dignitas organization there, ended his life with the support of his family. The other woman, from Holland, told the story of her father’s assisted suicide over a decade ago. He also had incurable brain cancer and was one of the first people to benefit from the euthanasia law there which had just been passed in 2002.

The Sidmennt board members are proud of opening up discussion about this very important and controversial ethical subject. We feel that we have done something valuable for Icelandic society.

Hope Knutsson

President of Sidmennt