Dutch campaigners want assisted suicide extended to the elderly who have 'had enough' of life

Euthanasia has been legal in the Netherlands since 2002(Photo: Unsplash/AdrienOlichon)

A Dutch lawmaker is preparing to make a fresh push in parliament to radically extend the Netherlands' assisted suicide laws to older people who feel they have "had enough" of life. 

Pia Dijkstra, a member of the Democrats 66 party, wants to introduce legislation to the Dutch parliament early next year that will extend the option of assisted dying to the elderly, Dutch News reports.

Assisted suicide has been legal in the Netherlands since 2002, making it the first European country to decriminalise the practice. 

It was originally intended only for people in "hopeless and unbearable suffering" as a result of a medical condition, with no prospect of further treatment bringing about an improvement. 

However, the interpretation of the law has become increasingly loose over the years, with doctors approving the euthanasia of people with dementia and mental health conditions.

In recent years, campaigners have been pushing for the law to be extended to those who are 'tired of life'.

Ms Dijkstra said health minister Hugo de Jonge was not working quickly enough to change the law. 

"The minister obviously senses the urgency less than I do," she was quoted as saying by Dutch News.

"The very elderly who have had enough should be able to die when they choose." 

It comes as a Dutch doctor is being investigated after performing euthanasia on a 74-year-old who had severe dementia.

It is alleged that the doctor sedated the woman and then asked family members to hold her down while a lethal drug was administered. 

Prosecutors said they wanted to clarify whether a person with advanced dementia could be deemed to have given their consent.

Although prosecutors are not seeking a prison sentence for the doctor, they argue that she broke the law by not doing enough to ensure that the patient had given her consent.