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Retrospect on 2020

As 2021 has started in silence, due to lockdowns and other Covid19 measures, we have a look back on 2020. Below you find some of the most notable legal developments regarding euthanasia and assisted suicide around the world this past year.


February: Five bills about euthanasia were approved by the Portugese Parliament. The bills were about to permit euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill adults older than 18. The five texts will be merged into one bill which will be presented to the president of the republic: Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. He can sign in or block it. 


February: The Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) in Karlsruhe declared the German ban on assisted suicide unconstitutional. The court declared that the general right of personality, as laid down in the German constitution, includes a right to self-determined death. This right includes the freedom to commit suicide and to use the voluntary help of third parties. 


March: A bill to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide was brought into Uruguay’s parliament. Together with this, a Uruguayan Right to Die Society was born and a recent report showed that the majority of the population is supporting euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The Netherlands

July: The social-liberal party (D66) submitted their long awaited bill on end-of-life guidance for elderly people who consider their own lives to be ‘completed’. As the government of the Netherlands is filled with two Christian parties, the chance that the law will pass on short term is not big.


September: A bill to regulate euthanasia is introduced and discussed in Parliament. Although euthanasia is for many years allowed and regulated in Colombia, it never came to a law.

New Zealand

October: New Zealand people legalized euthanasia by referendum. The island nation approved the End of Life Choice Act which will allow terminally ill adults the choice of an assisted death. The act will go into effect 7 November 2021 (the anniversary of its final certification). 


December: The Spanish parliament voted to allow euthanasia. The bill is expected to become law during the first half of 2021. 


December: The Austrian Constitutional Court ruled that the prohibition of “helping people to commit suicide” violates the right to self-determination. The court held that the provision violated one’s right to self-determination since it laid down a blanket ban on assisting a person in dying without providing for any exceptions.