15 cases in 2013 and 2014

Luxembourg euthanasia report finds no abuses of the law

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(CS/BB) A report presented Wednesday said that 15 people were euthanised in Luxembourg during the two-year period from 2013 to 2014.

A majority of procedures were carried out at hospitals, while three patients died at their retirement homes and one person was euthanised at home. Only patients with no chance of recovery can seek authorisation for euthanasia.

In most cases, the patients were being treated for terminal cancer. Three patients suffered from neurodegenerative diseases, while one person suffered a stroke.

A commission charged with monitoring the implementation of the 2009 euthanasia law said that no abuses had been detected and that all procedures were carried out within the legal framework.

The number of patients seeking euthanasia has remained stable. The previous two-year report for 2011 and 2012 saw 14 requests granted.

Chamber of Deputies president Mars Di Bartolomeo commented that the law was no longer cause of polemic and had found its place in society.

Long gone seem the days when the bill unleashed a constitutional crisis in 2008 after Grand Duke Henri refused to sign it into law, arguing that his conscience did not allow him to make such a decision. The Grand Duke and the royal family are known to be devoutly Catholic.

This prompted the introduction of an amendment to the constitution, specifying that the Grand Duke does not sanction laws with his signature but merely promulgates them, thus essentially prohibiting the monarch from refusing to sign.

The bill was finally signed in early 2009 and came into effect on March 16 that year.

Di Bartolomeo on Wednesday also said that all cases were treated “seriously.”

Saying that there is no need for a change in the current legislation, the supervisory commission recommended that doctors should be better prepared in their training for end-of-life care.

Additionally, patients should receive more information on the euthanasia law, the commission said.

The report also showed that in 2013 and 2014, 699 living wills were signed by patients specifying the kind of end-of-life care they want to receive if they become unable to make decisions for themselves, for example following an accident.