Luxemburg is since March 16, 2009, the last of the three BeNeLux countries to legalise euthanasia. The bill to allow physician assisted dying was proclaimed this week after a constitutional crisis in Luxembourg last year when Grand Duke Henri refused to sign the bill into law. The crisis led to his powers being significantly curtailed so that laws no longer need to be signed by him.
Dying With Dignity Victoria says Luxembourg – now the fourth European Union country to allow physician assisted dying – shows decriminalisation is safe and inevitable. Terminally ill people in Luxembourg will join those in the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland in now having a right to assistance to end their lives, with the approval of two doctors and a panel of experts.
“Australian parliamentarians can take comfort from the knowledge that countries around the world have looked at the experience of first movers and recognized that safeguards do work.” said Lyn Allison, president of Dying With Dignity Victoria.
Physician assisted dying for the terminally ill has growing support in the United States also where Oregon introduced legislation 10 years ago. Washington State this month passed similar legislation and Montana has obtained a similar right through a court ruling rather than legislation.
“Australians are no different to people in Europe or America in wanting physician assisted dying legalized. Independent polls consistently show that 80 per cent of Australians want reform and more doctors now support this right than oppose it.”
A bill to legalise physician assisted dying in Victoria was debated in the State parliament in October last year. It failed although it was evident from the debate that most members supported physician assisted dying in principle.
Dying With Dignity Victoria is now seeking referral of the current Victorian legislation (The Medical Treatment Act 1988) to the Victorian Law Reform Commission.