The parliament of Austria approved this Thursday, by a large majority, legislation to legalize assisted suicide for seriously ill patients, which from 2022 They will be able to access the lethal medication to end their life.
The new regulations passed after the Constitutional Court lifted the ban on assisted suicide, since in the opinion of the judges, this violates the right of self-determination of the individual. Conversely, active euthanasia remains prohibited.
According to the text, which had the support of all the parties except the far-right formation FPÖ, adults in a terminal phase or suffering from a permanent and debilitating illness may have help to commit suicide.
So that a person can access this procedure Several requirements must be met: being over 18 years old, a medical diagnosis, explanatory talks with two doctors and a reflection period of several weeks. Only then will the sick be allowed to draw up their will with a notary or a patient advocate and then will they be able to obtain a drug in a pharmacy to die.
Two doctors (one of them specialized in palliative medicine) should evaluate each case. They will need to determine whether the patient is capable of making the decision independently.
In addition, there will have to be a period of twelve weeks until the suicide aid is accepted, in the event that the plaintiff had experienced a temporary crisis. This term it will be shortened to two weeks for patients in the “end-stage” of a disease.
None of the people involved in the assisted suicide process may be reported to the courts. The patient must ingest the substance without assistance; if this is not possible, he must activate the probe that introduces the drug into his body.
The ruling Austrian People’s Party (OVP) and the Greens have supported the law in the National Council – one of the two houses of the Austrian Parliament – as have the opposition Social Democrats and the liberal Neos party. Only the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPOE) has spoken out against the law.
Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) considered that the law allows human dignity, according to the APA press agency. In addition, a budget of 108 million euros was approved for palliative care, to guarantee that “no one chooses death if there are other possibilities.”
At the end of October, Zadic spoke of a “very delicate issue” that needed “legal certainty” through the new law, so that people who want to help their sick relatives or friends do not incur any crime and “can assist very sick people in his decision to die with dignity ”.
The law will not allow assisted suicide of minors, while at the same time It includes measures to prevent family members from forcing a relative to commit suicide in order to gain their inheritance or other “despicable motives”.
The Austrian Government, which has a stable majority in Parliament, was required to introduce the new law after the country’s Constitutional Court this year suspended the current law prohibiting assisted suicide. Without the new law, assisted suicide would have been legal without any restrictions.
Euthanasia is legalized in other European countries such as Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain. In South America, only Colombia allows active euthanasia.
With information from Europa Press and AFP
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