Luxembourg Parliament Passes Euthanasia Bill
Set to become third country in EU to legalize euthanasia
LifeSiteNews, By John Connolly
BRUSSELS, February 20, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Luxembourg parliament voted by a slim margin to legalize euthanasia on February 19, becoming the third country in the European Union to do so. While the euthanasia bill has not yet passed second reading, it is anticipated that it will come into effect this summer, unless a radical shift of opinion in parliament occurs.
The law was passed by a vote of 30 to 26. The vote was heralded as a defeat for Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker's Social Christian Party, which was strongly against the bill. Nearly all of the members of the Social Christian Party voted against the measure.
"The Christian Social Party and the Catholic church were against the euthanasia law, calling it murder but we said no, it's just another way to go," said Jean Huss, a member of the Green Party, and co-sponsor of the bill.
The bill caused a heated debate in Luxembourg, with the majority of the medical establishment opposing it. Lawmakers have tried to quiet the unrest the debate caused, arguing that the close regulation of euthanasia in the bill will ensure that it will not cause wanton killing.
"This bill is not a permit to kill," said Socialist Lydie Err, who helped draft the bill. "It's not a law for the parents or the doctors but for the patient and the patient alone to decide if he wants to put an end to his suffering."
According to the bill, euthanasia would be regulated by living will. Doctors will also be required to consult with a colleague to ensure that the patient has a terminal illness.
The Netherlands became the first country in the European Union to legalize euthanasia in 2002, with Belgium following that example in 2003. Luxembourg's euthanasia bill has passed first reading by one vote and will be legalized is it passes second reading. Every member of the ruling Christian Social Party would need to vote against the euthanasia bill to ensure that it would be defeated.
In an interview with LifeSiteNews.com Alex Schadenberg, the Chairperson of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition - International, encouraged people from across the world to contact Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker's office, to support his efforts to defeat the bill. Shadenberg said that people should let Juncker know that, "The legalization of euthanasia in Luxembourg is a direct threat to the lives of Luxembourg's most vulnerable citizens, people with disabilities, the frail elderly, the chronically ill, and people who experience depression. These citizens need their lives protected and not threatened by legalized euthanasia."
"Vulnerable people become highly dependant on others for their basic care," said Schadenberg, "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."
"It is a grave error for Luxembourg to legalize euthanasia because it will result in a direct threat to your most vulnerable citizens and it will put a black mark on your world-wide image as a caring nation," said Schadenberg in a letter to the Prime Minister. "These people need laws that protect their lives. No safeguards can effectively protect the lives of vulnerable people based on the very nature of their dependency. Vulnerable people in Luxembourg need excellent pain, symptom management and end-of-life care and not death by euthanasia."
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