The Right to Die with Dignity: the moral complex of Europe

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The Right to Die with Dignity: the moral complex of Europe

Euthanasia is one of the most controversial medical procedures and is taboo in many parts of society. Due to stigmatization and an unspoken ban on the discussion of the topic, few people know that euthanasia can be officially performed in Luxembourg, and has been for a long time.

For the Grand Duchy, the right to die with dignity is not an insignificant concept. Exactly 15 years ago, in 2008, the Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies passed the Law on the Right to Die with Dignity, making euthanasia available to patients in the country.

Of course, not everyone can end his or her life with medical assistance. The procedure requires harsh medical conditions, such as intolerable pain or an incurable terminal illness.

Foreign experience shows that the majority of cases involve advanced cancers or neuro-muscular illnesses with terminal paralysis, but it could be any severe, incurable and irreversible disorder which meets the legal conditions, — says the brochure on Euthanasia and assisted suicide by Ministry of Health

Nevertheless, the topic is gradually becoming more and more debated. Lifting taboos and raising public awareness of the issue and reducing people's fears of euthanasia.

The number of procedures is also increasing in the Grand Duchy. While in 2019 and 2020 number of people who have chosen euthanasia was 41, in years 2021 and 2022 — 58 patients with severe diagnoses sought help with dying. Non-residents also can get access to this procedure. The statistics are collected every two years, so we can not say that there is an obvious trend.

Interestingly, in addition to physical illnesses, incurable mental disorders are also taken into account in Luxembourg. They can sometimes cause equal, if not greater discomfort to a person's life. It's important to understand, that to get assistance in this case, the patient must suffer a serious illness and go through tons of attempts to fight it, and still not get better.

The Health Commission now calls for clear guidelines on prices and requirements for euthanasia, as well as training for hospital staff on how to provide care for patients. In Luxembourg, there are several mandatory requirements before permission for the procedure can be granted:

  • The patient must be competent and conscious at the time of application and decision,
  • The decision must be made voluntarily, deliberately, and without external pressure,
  • If the suffering from the illness (physical or mental) is permanent and incurable, and an independent professional confirms this in writing.

Minors, adults under guardianship and incapacitated persons cannot legally request euthanasia. Nor can their parents, guardians or custodians do so on their behalf.

A lot of ethical debates are triggered when the right to die with dignity is discussed. Nevertheless, in 2021 assisted suicide was adopted in the legislative system of Spain, and in June of the same year, the first euthanasia was held in Italy. European countries, that have not accepted this ethical construction before, are changing their approach. Currently, there are 6 countries that have adopted the Right to die with dignity.

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Source: RTL

Authors: Daria

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