Czech Republic Senate Opposes Lowing Euthanasia Prison Sentences

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 8, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Czech Republic Senate Opposes Lowing Euthanasia Prison Sentences Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 8, 2006

Prague, Czech Republic ( — Members of the Senate in the Czech Republic have voted against a criminal law reform bill that included a proposal to lower the penalties for euthanasia. The measure lost in part because of euthanasia but also because of other political issues involved in the bill.

The measure will now return to the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, where the bill can be revised or the body can attempt to override the Senate veto.

The proposal was opposed by senior opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) and they were joined by three senators from the Independents (SNK) group, both Communist senators and independent senator Jaroslav Kubin in voting to reject the measure.

In total, 42 of 74 senators voted no.

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

In December, 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."

Pro-life groups may win support from President Vaclav 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."