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what is the rest of Europe doing?

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                At a time when, in France, the National Assembly examines on Wednesday in committee a bill on the end of life, Spain has just authorized euthanasia and Portugal is approaching it.  Signs of change are also being felt in countries which have hitherto been resistant, such as Ireland.

                                    <p>The assisted suicide of people at the end of their life is still debated in France.  If the French Senate has just rejected, on March 11, a socialist bill on euthanasia, several other texts are expected in the National Assembly.  The Social Affairs Committee must therefore examine a bill on Wednesday "giving the right to a free and chosen end of life", before a debate scheduled in the hemicycle on April 8.

Elsewhere in Europe, five neighboring countries, less cautious on this issue, have already adopted laws authorizing the administration of a drug causing death. The latest, Spain legalized euthanasia on March 18. European tour of current practices and debates.

  • The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland at the forefront

The first member of the European Union to legalize euthanasia in 2001, the Netherlands was followed in this way by Belgium in 2002, and by Luxembourg in 2009. In these three countries, one or more doctors must issue a favorable opinion on the process. To be entitled to active assistance in dying, the patient must be in a “hopeless” medical situation and must still be in full possession of his means.

In Switzerland, where we do not speak of euthanasia, but of “assisted suicide”, the practice has been decriminalized for decades. The patient should use good judgment and self-administer the lethal dose. The follow-up is carried out by approved associations, and not a doctor.

  • Spain takes the plunge
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In Spain, a law authorizing euthanasia will come into force in June. The Parliament approved the text on March 18 by a large majority of 202 deputies out of 350, thanks to the votes of the left and the center. When the count was announced, part of the hemicycle applauded this historic vote at length.

In this country, euthanasia will be even more regulated than among Europeans who have already legalized it. The decision will require the opinion of an independent evaluation committee made up of doctors and lawyers. Doctors should ensure that the patient is fully aware of his choice and is the victim of “severe chronic and disabling suffering or serious and incurable disease”. Beneficiaries will have to confirm their choice at least four times during this validation process which should last at least one month.

  • A pro-euthanasia law challenged in Portugal

At the end of January, the Portuguese Parliament had also adopted a law authorizing “medically assisted death” for all Portuguese residing in the country and “in a situation of extreme suffering, presenting irreversible lesions” or suffering from “an incurable disease. “. But the Constitutional Court revoked the text on March 15. The highest judicial body in the country had been seized by the Portuguese president, a recently re-elected conservative.

A devout Catholic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa firmly opposes euthanasia and has used his veto to ask the Court to verify whether the new law, voted by a large majority of parliamentarians, was in conformity with the Basic Law. The court agreed with him, concluding that the situations opening the way to assisted suicide were not framed “with the necessary rigor”. But the Constitutional Court did not consider the right to life to be an “insurmountable obstacle” preventing Parliament from legalizing euthanasia. The text could therefore soon be submitted to Parliament in a new form.

  • “Passive” euthanasia in Norway, Sweden, Germany and Austria
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Other European countries allow the interruption of the life-sustaining medical device, known as “passive euthanasia”. This is currently the case in France, where the patient has the right to “deep and continuous sedation” until death, if he is affected by a “serious and incurable affection”, if his “vital prognosis is engaged. in the short term “and if he presents” suffering refractory to treatment “.

Sweden, Germany, Austria and Norway also tolerate passive euthanasia at the patient’s request. In Norway, this can be done at the request of a loved one, if the patient is unconscious.

The next few years could be marked by changes in the law. Legal battles are engaged in Germany and Austria, where the constitutional courts of both countries in 2020 rejected laws banning assisted suicide.

  • Will Italy and Ireland soon be affected? Refractory Poland

Elsewhere in Europe, the beginnings of an evolution are being felt. In Italy, euthanasia is prohibited and punishable by law with penalties ranging from five to twelve years in prison. However, the Constitutional Court also tackled the subject by decriminalizing, in September 2019, assisted suicide under strict conditions.

But the real surprise could come from Ireland. This country with a strong Catholic tradition, until now firmly opposed to euthanasia, saw its parliamentarians vote in October 2020 to consider a bill to decriminalize assisted suicide.

On the other hand, Poland, just as traditional, remains resistant for the moment to any development concerning assisted dying.


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