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Luxembourg: Right to Die with Dignity

(Mar. 2, 2008) In February 2008, the Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies adopted the Law on the Right to Die with Dignity. The Law covers both euthanasia and physician-assisted suicides. A physician who performs euthanasia or assists in a suicide must ensure that:

  1. the patient is legally competent at the time of his request;
  2. the patient has the authorization of his parents or legal guardian if he is between the ages of 16 and 18;
  3. the request is voluntary, thought through, and repeated and does not result from external pressure;
  4. the patient suffers from an incurable condition and is constantly in unbearable physical or mental pain; and
  5. the patient respects all the conditions and procedures prescribed by the Law.

The physician is also required to inform the patient of his state of health and life expectancy and to discuss all other therapeutic possibilities still available and their consequences, including palliative care. He must arrive at the conclusion that in the eyes of the patient, there is no other solution. He must also ensure through several meetings with his patient that the physical or psychological suffering is persistent and that there have been repeated requests to die. He must consult with another physician to confirm that the patient's condition is incurable. The request to die must be in writing. Euthanasia may also be requested in a living will.

The Law establishes a National Commission of Control and Evaluation to assess the implementation of the Law. A physician who performs euthanasia must, within four days, remit an official declaration to the Commission. Finally, the Law provides that no physician is obliged to perform euthanasia or assist in a suicide. According to the parliamentary rules of procedure, a second reading of the Law is necessary before it can take effect. (Chambre des Députés, Proposition de loi No. 4909 sur le droit de mourir en dignité.)