The state of euthanasia in Europe

December 12, 2014

French legislation introduced Friday to ease restrictions on doctor-assisted death risks further diversifying the range of clashing national laws on euthenasia across Europe.

Following is a round-up of the state of current euthanasia regulations in Europe.

LEGALISED

In THE NETHERLANDS, active, direct euthanasia has been legal since April 2002. Requested administration of a drug in lethal doses is authorised if patients make the request while fully mentally lucid. They must also endure unbearable and endless suffering from a condition diagnosed as incurable by at least two doctors.

The Netherlands has also authorised euthanasia for children younger than 12 under strict conditions.

BELGIUM lifted restrictions on euthanasia in September 2002 for patients facing constant, unbearable and untreatable physical or psychic suffering; aged 18 or over; and who request termination of life in a voluntary, deliberated and repeated manner free from coercion.

Provisions for doctor-assisted death in cases that meet those criteria may also be stipulated in "living wills" written by healthy people before they fall ill, and which remain valid for five years.

In February 2014, Belgium became the first country to authorise children to request euthanasia if they suffer a terminal disease, and understand the consequences of the act.

In LUXEMBOURG, a text legalising euthanasia in certain terminal cases was approved in March 2009. It excludes minors.

AUTHORISED OR TOLERATED

SWITZERLAND is one of the rare countries that allows assisted suicide by patients administering a lethal dose of medication themselves. Switzerland does not allow active, direct euthanasia by a third party, but tolerates the provision of substances to relieve suffering even if death is a possible side-effect.

Passive euthanasia, or the halting of medical procedures that maintain life, is also tolerated.

In FRANCE, a 2005 law acknowledges a "right to die" in connection with procedures to ease suffering.

A doctor can prescribe pain killers even if their use under certain conditions may result in death, provided the patient is in an advanced stage of an .

SWEDEN authorised passive euthanasia in 2010.

BRITAIN has allowed medical personnel to halt life-preserving treatment in certain cases since 2002. Prosecution of those who have helped a close relative die after clearly expressing the desire to end their lives has receded since 2010.

In AUSTRIA and GERMANY, passive euthanasia is permitted if the patient has requested it.

Since 1992, DENMARK has allowed patients to file previously written refusal of excessive treatment in dire situations, with the document held in a centralised register.

In NORWAY, passive euthanasia is permitted if requested by the patient, or by a relative if the patient is unconscious.

In HUNGARY, SPAIN and the CZECH REPUBLIC, people with incurable diseases can refuse treatment.

In PORTUGAL, active and passive euthanasia is not legal, but an ethical council has approved the halting of treatment in certain cases.

PROHIBITED

In ITALY, ROMANIA, GREECE, BOSNIA, SERBIA, CROATIA, POLAND AND IRELAND is forbidden, and considered homicide. Punishment can range from 14 and 15 years in prison in Ireland and Italy respectively, to relatively light sentences in Croatia.

Explore further: French court rules out euthanasia for quadriplegic

Related Stories

French court rules out euthanasia for quadriplegic

January 16, 2014
A French court Thursday ruled against ending the life of a 38-year-old quadriplegic who has been in a vegetative state for years and whose family have been divided about his fate.

Belgian euthanasia law allows first death of a prisoner

September 13, 2012
A gravelly ill prisoner serving a long jail sentence has become the first inmate to die under Belgian euthanasia laws introduced 10 years ago, press reports said Thursday.

Dutch, Belgians mark decade of 'mercy killings'

March 30, 2012
Ten years after they became the first countries to legalise euthanasia, the Netherlands and Belgium now provide assisted suicide to 4,000 people a year.

Belgium looks at euthanasia for minors, Alzheimer's sufferers

December 18, 2012
Belgium is considering a significant change to its decade-old euthanasia law that would allow minors and Alzheimer's sufferers to seek permission to die.

Belgian upper house approves euthanasia for children

December 12, 2013
Belgium's upper house on Thursday backed plans to extend mercy-killing to terminally-ill children amid an intense public debate.

Row over euthanasia for minors intensifies in Belgium

November 6, 2013
A heated debate on proposals to legalise euthanasia for minors in Belgium, one of the few countries to allow it for adults, intensified on Wednesday with supporters and opponents pressing their case.

Recommended for you

How do babies laugh? Like chimps!

November 7, 2018
Few things can delight an adult more easily than the uninhibited, effervescent laughter of a baby. Yet baby laughter, a new study shows, differs from adult laughter in a key way: Babies laugh as they both exhale and inhale, ...

Tongue-in-cheek Nobels honor nutritional analysis of cannibalism, roller-coaster kidney stones treatment

September 14, 2018
A nutritional analysis of cannibalism and treating kidney stones on roller-coasters were research projects honored by tongue-in-cheek awards at Harvard University Thursday, designed to make you laugh first, and think later.

Pediatric robot patient offers new level of realism for doctors in training

September 10, 2018
A team of researchers and engineers at Gaumard Scientific has unveiled a new robot that raises the bar on medical training devices. The robot, called HAL, has been made to look like a five-year-old male patient and offers ...

Why men say they've had more lifetime sexual partners than women

July 25, 2018
The disparity between the number of sexual partners reported by men and women can largely be explained by a tendency among men to report extreme numbers of partners, and to estimate rather than count their lifetime total, ...

Censors jump into action as China's latest vaccine scandal ignites

July 22, 2018
Chinese censors on Sunday deleted articles and postings about the vaccine industry as an online outcry over the country's latest vaccine scandal intensified.

Revenge of a forgotten medical 'genius'

June 30, 2018
It's not an uncommon fate for a pioneering scientist: languishing unrecognised in his time before dying in obscurity. But as his 200th birthday approaches, the life-saving work of a Hungarian obstetrician is finally getting ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.