20 February 2008
Luxembourg legalises assisted dying – Final Benelux country passes legislation
The Luxembourg Parliament has enacted legislation that will allow for assisted dying. This now means that all three of the Benelux countries have assisted dying legislation in place.
The Law on the Right to Die with Dignity resembles the current law in Belgium, allowing people who are suffering unbearably from an illness, and are mentally competent, to request medical assistance to die from a doctor.
Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, who campaign for greater patient choice at the end of life in the UK, said:
“Luxembourg’s new law reflects the support of the overwhelming majority of its public for greater patient choice at the end of life.
“In the UK, over 80% of the general public would like to see legislation in our country for terminally ill, mentally competent adults to request a medically assisted death when their suffering becomes unbearable and Dignity in Dying remains committed to achieving this.
“The change in law that we are campaigning for is different than that in Luxembourg, but today’s news shows that patient choice at the end of life must become a priority for decision-makers in the UK.”
The approval of the Law on the Right to Die with Dignity in Luxembourg is the first time in 29 years that the country’s Christian Social People’s Party has been defeated. In the UK, the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill (ADTI) Bill previously reached the second hearing at the House of Lords, but was eventually voted against in May 2006.
Jean Huss, of the Association of the Right to Die with Dignity, Luxembourg, said:
“With this law, people will finally have a free choice. Everybody can now have palliative care but those who find themselves in a desperate situation can now also ask legally for active euthanasia or assisted suicide under certain conditions spelled out in the law.”
For all media enquiries, please contact Jessica Tomlin on 020 7479 7736 or 07725 433025 or jessica.Tomlin@dignityindying.org.uk
About the new legislation in Luxembourg
The Bill is very much inspired by the Belgian legislation. The most important elements are:
- The Bill legalises voluntary euthanasia and assisted dying
- People do not have to be terminally ill to be eligible. As in Belgium, the patient must be experiencing constant and unbearable suffering
- The patient has to be mentally competent when making the request
The Bill was passed at the same time as the Government’s Bill on Palliative care.
A poll conducted 8 days ago showed that 78% of the population is in favour of the legislation.
Luxembourg has a population of 459,500 inhabitants (official estimate 2006), with foreign residents making up 32 % of the population (source http://www.luxembourg.co.uk/ ).
Votes on the Bill:
30 in favour: All the members of the Green Party (7), all the members of the Liberal Party (10), 11 members of the Socialist Party, 1 member of the Christian Social People’s Party, 1 member of another small party
26 against: Mainly members of the Christian Social People’s Party
3 abstentions: All members of the Socialist Party
1 Parliamentarian was absent
There are 60 Members of Parliament in Luxembourg.
About the ADTI Bill
The Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill (ADTI) Bill was defeated in the House of Lords in May 2006. The Bill, closely modelled on the Oregon legislation, proposed to allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults with a prognosis of six months or less to live who are suffering unbearably the option of an assisted death. The Bill contained over 20 safeguards to protect the vulnerable, including a consultation with a palliative care specialist and a consultation with a psychologist and/or psychiatrist if there was any question about their mental competency.
About Dignity in Dying:
Dignity in Dying is the leading organisation in the UK that advocates assisted dying for terminally ill patients and campaigns for greater patient choice at the end of life.
The organisation is also the country’s leading provider in information on end-of-life issues.
Dignity in Dying has over 100,000 supporters and receives its funding entirely from donations from the public.
Opinion polls consistently show that at least 80% of the UK population support a change in the law on assisted dying.
An interview with Ashley Riley is available to download at http://www.dignityindying.org.uk/aboutus/.