Euthanasia has been legal in the Netherlands for a decade. But an organisation based in The Hague is now offering a mobile euthanasia service, prompting accusations that the law has been pushed too far.
The anti-euthanasia lobby is in a fury, branding the mobile euthanasia units “death squads” and accusing the government of not doing enough to enforce the strict medical codes of practice that accompanies the procedure.
Teams will be travelling around the country assisting patients whose own doctors refuse to help them to die. The new units consist of a doctor, a nurse and all the medical equipment required to carry out euthanasia.
Patients can choose injections administered by the medical team, or they may drink a lethal concoction of life-ending drugs. The Dutch right-to-die organisation (NVVE), which is funding the new scheme, says both options will be available on the mobile units…
The patients get to make a choice about living or dying, and if the latter – how to proceed. The Christian Phalange meanwhile will continue to beat their breasts in a paroxysm of righteous indignation.
One of the creators of the Levenseinde (Life End) units, Jan Suyver, strongly believes that patients should have the right to decide to die.
“If you are so ill and you know it is not going to get better then at least you can choose to die surrounded by your family, you can choose to ‘die consciously’ so you know what’s happening and you are in control,” he says.
Mr Suyver, a retired judge, says he was inspired to take action after seeing many people who met the strict criteria for euthanasia but were rejected by their own GPs.
“I saw patients experiencing unbearable pain who had no chance of recovery, and who were certain that they wanted to die, but because their own doctors felt they were not experienced enough to perform euthanasia, or because they felt like it went against their religious or moral beliefs, they would not do it,” he says.
“So then what happens to the patient? Euthanasia is legal under Dutch law so if someone wants this and they meet all the requirements they are entitled to this and that is why I made the units – for those patients.”
In 2002, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia. Every year there are between 2,500 and 3,000 procedures carried out, accounting for about 2% of deaths annually.
What a sensible, liberty-based nation. Freed from the restrictions of politicians catering to Christian firewalls and spooky limits on an individual’s right to order the course of their own life, to decide the end of their own life with dignity.
Proof positive of the hypocrisy of conservatives and self-titled libertarians here in the United States who legislate against any freedom of choice which offends 14th Century ideologues. Add to that religious demagogues like Rick Santorum who blurt plain and simple lies about the choices made by citizens of the Netherlands. Afraid of the question of an individual’s choice, once again.