THE HAGUE (Reuters Health) Apr 11 - The Netherlands on Wednesday became the first country to legalize physician-assisted suicide, despite a protest by thousands of demonstrators.
The 75-seat Senate voted 46 to 28 in favor of the law, recognizing a practice that has already been tolerated in the Netherlands for over 2 decades. One member was not present. The legislation will come into force once Queen Beatrix signs it and the details are published in official legal media. This process is expected to take about 2 weeks.
The Dutch believe legalizing physician-assisted suicide will clear up a fuzzy area of law that has left open the possibility of physicians being prosecuted.
The new law stipulates
that adult patients must have made a voluntary, well-considered and lasting
request to die; that they face a future of unbearable suffering; and that
there is no reasonable alternative. A second physician must be consulted,
and life must be ended in a medically appropriate way.
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