Belgium Moves Toward Legalizing Euthanasia

BRUSSELS, Belgium, JAN. 15, 2001 (

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Belgium has taken a decisive step toward the acceptance of euthanasia.

This past weekend, the Senate´s Commission of Justice and Social Affairs approved Article 3 of a draft law, indicating the conditions necessary for doctors to be able to help a person take his life without being prosecuted.

The issue has been debated for over a year and a half in the Belgian Senate. The draft law states that the request for euthanasia must be made voluntarily, after mature reflection, and without external pressures.

According to the draft law, the patient must make his request in writing, although it is possible to have a witness, who can understand and communicate the patient´s will, should the patient be unable to write.

The text provides for the withdrawal of the request at any time, and requires the doctor to inform the patient of the possibilities for the palliative care. The Netherlands already has moved to legalize euthanasia.

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