2 Mar 2012

Mobile euthanasia units in Holland

1:35 pm on 2 March 2012

Six mobile euthanasia units will begin travelling around the Netherlands on Thursday, to carry out assisted suicide of euthanasia on patients at home.

The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia in April 2002. Every year, more than 200 people decide to end their lives there.

The Right-to-die NL group said the teams were expected to receive around 1000 assisted suicide requests per year. NWE said it had already been phoned by 70 potential patients since the plan was announced in early February.

The procedure would be done free of charge.

Strict criteria exist in Dutch law for patients who request mercy killings.

These include that patients must be fully mentally alert when making the request to die.

Families, for instance, cannot request a mercy killing for relatives.

Patients also have to face a future of unbearable, interminable suffering and both the patient and their doctor - who also has to get a second opinion from another doctor - must be in agreement there was no other cure.

Each euthanasia case is reported to a special commission, comprising a doctor, a jurist and an ethical expert charged with verifying that all required criteria had been respected.

Health Minister Edith Schippers has told parliament she would not oppose the plan as it fell within current legislation.