Austria’s conservatives propose assisted suicide law

Proposal would take place before country’s next parliamentary elections in autumn The conservative Austrian government has proposed a law to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia, bringing the country closer to becoming the first in…

Austria's conservatives propose assisted suicide law

Proposal would take place before country’s next parliamentary elections in autumn

The conservative Austrian government has proposed a law to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia, bringing the country closer to becoming the first in Europe to do so.

In its state government programme that will take effect on Sunday, the Austrian parliament promises legislation “in the near future” to make it legal for doctors to provide assisted suicide and euthanasia to help a suffering patient to die.

A preliminary bill could be discussed in June or July, according to the government. But the draft will not be put up for final votes before autumn because parliament elections in the country of 8.4 million will take place early that month.

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“It is necessary to deal with medical-assisted dying immediately, so the pain and suffering of patients with a terminal illness … is ended on their own terms,” the state election programme said.

By allowing assisted suicide, Austria would follow in the footsteps of some US states. Dignitas, the Swiss group that helps terminally ill people commit suicide, has in the past said it could open its doors in Austria.

The founder of a euthanasia support group in Austria said he hoped the government’s proposal would progress, but warned it might fail due to the social divide between rich and poor.

“This is not a reform society is ready for. It is a reform society it wishes to,” said Wolfgang Kuesl. “It is the danger of an old and socially divided society that does not lead people to a peaceful solution,” he told AFP.

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