Plans for a mobile euthanasia team to assist people to die at home have been given the go-ahead in Holland, according to reports.
The mobile teams of doctors would be the first to carry out assisted suicides in borderline cases when family doctors refuse to administer patients with lethal drugs on ethical grounds.
"However, the doctors will have to comply with the same ‘due care criteria’ as ‘regular’ doctors," explains Rob Jonquière, MD, Communications Director for World Federation of Right to Die Societies.
The ‘due care criteria’ laid out in the Dutch Euthanasia Act (2002) hold that there should be a voluntary and well-considered request, the patient’s suffering should be unbearable and hopeless, the patient should be informed about their situation, there are no reasonable alternatives, an independent physician should be consulted, and the method should be medically and technically appropriate.
The Federation of Dutch Physicians expressed fears over patients who could be treated ending their lives unnecessarily, according to the Telegraph.
“In the worst cases, people could die who perhaps could have received some other help,” a spokesperson said.
Earlier this week the Archbishop of Canterbury warned that changes to the law to allow assisted suicide in the UK would spell “disaster” and a shift in societal attitudes towards the sanctity of life, it was reported by the Press Association.
He said: "We are committed as Christians to the belief that every life in every imaginable situation is infinitely precious in the sight of God.
"To say that there are certain conditions in which life is legally declared to be not worth living is a major shift in the moral and spiritual atmosphere in which we live.
"We can be realistic, we can be compassionate, in the application of the existing law."
Meanwhile, national campaign and lobby groups continue to fight for an assisted dying law in the UK. Dignity in Dying campaigns for an assisted dying law with upfront safeguards whereby terminally ill, mentally competent adults can choose an assisted death in their own homes or preferred place of care, if their suffering became unbearable for them.
Next month (March 2012), Parliament will debate the DPP’s guidelines on assisted suicide.