Voluntary euthanasia society renews calls for end-of-life pill
The Dutch voluntary euthanasia society is relaunching its campaign to have a pill made available to elderly people who wish to end their lives, the NRC said on Friday. The idea for such a pill was first launched at the beginning of the 1990s by senior judge and euthanasia campaigner Huib Drion and became known as ‘Drion’s pill’. He said the pill should be issued free of charge to everyone over the age of 70 but his initiative floundered on medical, ethical and legal grounds. Now the NVVE is having a new attempt and this time says the pills should only be issued by pharmacists or family doctors. ‘This is important to make sure that the drugs cannot be used for suicide, abuse or murder,’ the organisation said.
The NVVE now wants to discuss its ideas for an experiment with the health and justice ministries and with the Dutch doctors’ association KNMG. ‘We see that society wants such a pill, particularly among the babyboom generation which is not afraid to speak its mind,’ NVVE director Robert Schurink told the NRC. ‘They want control over the end of their lives.’ At the moment, the NVVE helps people who do not want to live any longer access foreign suppliers who can help them buy the pills to do the job, the paper said. Euthanasia is not legal in the Netherlands but the legislation has given doctors protection from prosecution if a patient was suffering unbearably and without prospect of improvement. Last year, some 14,000 people in the Netherlands were helped to die, most of whom were suffering from cancer.