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Dutch doctors start controversial scheme offering assisted suicide in patients’ homes
FRIDAY 02 MARCH
A highly controversial mobile euthanasia programme launched in the Netherlands yesterday, sending six specialised roving medical teams door-to-door to help patients end their lives free of charge in their own homes.
The project, which has provoked sharp criticism from doctors, is the brainchild of the Dutch largely donor-funded Right to Die NL. It follows the government’s 2002 decision to legalise euthanasia, making the Netherlands the first country in the world to do so. Walburg de Jong, a spokeswoman for the organisation said that since the ruling some 3,100 assisted suicides had been carried out annually. The mobile euthanasia teams, she said, operated free of charge and were designed to make it easier for patients enduring interminable suffering to end their lives.
“Many doctors continue to be afraid of performing euthanasia. They claim that it is against their religion or they simply don’t know the law regarding the issue,” she said. “Our teams will carry out euthanasia at patients’ homes should their normal doctor be unable or refuse to help them.” Right to Die said it had received 70 phone calls from potential assisted suicide patients since the scheme was announced in early February. It said that the teams expected to receive around 1,000 requests each year.