Luxembourg Could Become Third European Country to Legalize Euthanasia

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 20, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Luxembourg Could Become Third European Country to Legalize Euthanasia Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 20
, 2008

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg ( — The tiny European nation of Luxembourg may become the third European country after the Netherlands and Belgium to legalize euthanasia. Lawmakers there have approved legislation allowing doctors to help patients kill themselves without facing any legal consequences.

Just 30 of the 59 members of the nation’s parliament approved the bill, a slim majority, although nearly all of the members of Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker’s Social Christian Party voted against it.

The bill needs one more vote to approve it, according to an AFP report, and Catholic leaders are continuing a lobbying campaign with the hopes of defeating it.

Medical and physicians groups have joined them in opposing the bill.

The news agency indicated that patients can request help in dying in a living will or advanced directive and that doctors must get a second opinion that patients are in a "grave and incurable condition" before killing them.

The measure also creates a national commission that will evaluate every case to ensure the law and its guidelines are followed when patients are killed.

Alex Schadenberg, the head of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, told that he hopes people living in Luxembourg or who have friends or family there will contact Juncker’s office and urge opposition to the bill.

"The legalization of euthanasia in Luxembourg is a direct threat to the lives of Luxembourg’s most vulnerable citizens," he said.

Schadenberg worries the measure will open up involuntary euthanasia that would prey on people with disabilities, elderly citizens, and those suffering from depression.

"Vulnerable people become highly dependent on others for their basic care," he said.

"Therefore no safeguard can effectively protect the lives of vulnerable people against abuses of the law. Vulnerable people in Luxembourg need excellent pain management and end-of-life care and not death," he concluded.

The Netherlands became the first European nation to allow euthanasia in 2002 and Belgium followed a year later.