Austria allows assisted suicide

Status: 16.12.2021 9:45 p.m.

In Austria, permanently seriously or terminally ill adults can in future receive assistance to commit suicide. The National Council approved a new law for this. This form of euthanasia is tied to strict conditions.

From next year, assisted suicide will be legally permitted in Austria. The national council of the country passed the new “Death Disposal Act” with a large majority. Only the right-wing populist FPÖ voted against the new regulations.

This means that people who are permanently seriously ill or those affected by an incurable disease can in future receive medication in the pharmacy that will cause death.

However, the decision in favor of euthanasia is linked to several conditions. Those affected who want to use it must be at least 18 years old. In addition, the severity of your illness must be proven by a medical diagnosis.

A period of several weeks as a reflection period

Those affected must have consultations with at least two doctors, one of whom must have a qualification in palliative medicine. Doctors must determine that the person is able to make the decision to commit suicide independently and consciously. In addition, a waiting period of twelve weeks must be observed to ensure that the decision is a firm one and that was not made out of a crisis situation. For people with terminal illness, this period is only two weeks.

If these prerequisites are met, those affected can draw up an order from a notary or patient advocate in order to claim assisted suicide. Active euthanasia remains prohibited in Austria.

Constitutional Court overturned the ban

About a year ago the Austrian Constitutional Court lifted the previous ban on assisted suicide and called for a new legal regulation by the end of this year. The judges saw the ban as a violation of the individual’s right to self-determination.

The law that has now been passed respects human dignity, said Justice Minister Alma Zadic from the Austrian Greens to the APA news agency. But it should also ensure that “no one chooses the path of dying when there are other options”. That is why hospice and palliative care should be expanded nationwide. The government plans to invest 108 million euros for this.

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