Czech Republic Considers Lowering Prison Sentences for Euthanasia

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 13, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Czech Republic Considers Lowering Prison Sentences for Euthanasia Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 13, 2005

Prague, Czech Republic ( —
The Czech Republic in eastern Europe is considering lowering the penalties for euthanasia under a draft proposal pending the in country’s parliament. The measure is uniting pro-life and religious groups to oppose it.

Should the legislation be approved, euthanasia would no longer be considered murder there but be considered a separate special offense punishable only by six years in prison.

Last week, leaders of various religions released a joint statement condemning the proposal, according to a Radio Prague report.

"Jews have their own experience of euthanasia from the Nazi period," said leading Jewish rabbi Karel Sidon. "People were killed simply because they weren’t seen as suitable for the development of society. It began with the sick, and ended with six million victims of the Holocaust."

The draft proposal has been approved by the country’s lower house but must still be approved by the Czech Senate and signed by President Vaclav Klaus.

Pro-life groups may win support from President Klaus, who is reportedly unhappy with a provision in the measure that would fail to set a minimum sentence for euthanasia. This opens up the possibility that someone who kills a patient may escape jail time altogether.

Radio Prague says polls on the subject show the Czech public are divided 50-50 when it comes to euthanasia but Rabbi Karel Sidon says Christians, Muslims and Jews are united against the measure.

"The general attitude to euthanasia — and it’s the attitude of a large part of society as well as those who proposed this bill — is quite different from the view held by religious people, whatever their faith," he explained. "They believe that death is an integral part of life."