Medical professionals in the Netherlands have strongly criticized a proposed law that would allow people who believe they have lived their lives to the fullest and have nothing more to gain to seek assisted death.
The Netherlands has already legalized euthanasia, which is professionally assisted suicide of a person who is extremely ill to stop further suffering.
The proposal aims to broaden the existing euthanasia law, making it practically easier for those who feel their lives are complete to end their physical existence.
“Such a radical proposal is not desirable for practical reasons and for reasons of principle,” the Dutch Doctors Federation, representing some 59,000 practitioners and students, said in a statement late Wednesday.
The federation argued that passing another law alongside the euthanasia law will lead to an increase in “the feeling of vulnerability among elderly people and the stigmatization of old age.”
Instead of broadening the euthanasia law, it said, efforts should be made to find “solutions which address the feeling of uselessness among the elderly.”
The federation has sent its comments to the four main political parties in the country which are currently negotiating to form a coalition government.
In October, the outgoing government proposed broadening the euthanasia law to give elderly people, who are not sick but feel their lives are complete, the right to assisted suicide.
It would only apply to those who “no longer see any possibility of giving their life meaning, deeply feel their loss of independence, and remain isolated or lonely perhaps because they have lost a loved one,” the Dutch health and justice ministers said in a letter to parliament.
The Liberal VVD party which won the most seats in March 15 elections as well as the progressive D66 and the ecologist GroenLinks have voiced support for the law. While the Christian Democratic Appeal is against it, the party said it would not be a “deal-breaker” in the talks.
In 2002, the Netherlands and neighboring Belgium legalized euthanasia.
All the main religions of the world have prohibited suicide, regarding it as a great sin. Critics blame feelings of existential emptiness and suicidal drives in the West on materialism and fading role of religion.