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Narrow defeat for Luxembourg bill (15th January 2003)

On 15 January a resolution that would radically change Luxembourg law on euthanasia was narrowly defeated in the Luxembourg parliament. Socialist (LSAP) and Green Party representatives, Lydie Err, Alex Bodry and Jean Huss, presented a joint draft bill including legislation that would absolve doctors from prosecution if they assist in the death of terminally ill patients. The bill would also have created an independent commission to determine whether a patient’s request for euthanasia from a physician has been made with a clear mind and full understanding of the consequences. The subsequent vote on the resolution was lost by one vote.

“I am sad and angry”, said Jean Huss, a co-author of the resolution. “With the support of the Left… and if the Christian-Social Party (CSV) didn’t vote as only one man, things would be different.” The CSV, which forms a coalition government with the Democratic Party, voted unanimously against the resolution. However, the Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker is understood to be more sympathetic to the issue.

Jean Huss, who is also Vice-President of the local Association pour le Droit de Mourir dans la Dignité, said the debate was far from over. He intends to make voluntary euthanasia an election issue in the Luxembourg elections in June 2004, and is planning a lot of publicity for the end of 2003.