Netherlands Becomes First
Country To Legalise Euthanasia

THE HAGUE (AFP) - The Dutch Senate Tuesday passed a law legalising euthanasia under certain conditions, making the Netherlands the first country in the world to allow mercy killing.
The vote was passed 46 in favour to 28 against.
The passage of the legislation, which in fact authorizes a practice that has been informally allowed in the country for years, was the target of a protest by 8,000 people gathered in front of the Dutch parliament building.
Legislation and practices of euthanasia around the world
THE HAGUE (AFP) - The Netherlands is now the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia, but in many states the practice is implicitly allowed.
Some turn a blind eye to "assisted suicide", but many others refuse to countenance any legal framework for "active euthanasia". Here is a list of practices in countries around the world.
Several countries outside of The Netherlands allow some form of mercy killing.
In Sweden "suicide assistance" is a non-punishable offence. A doctor can, in extreme cases, unplug life support machines.
Denmark allows any patient with an incurable disease to make up his or her mind to decide when to stop vital treatment.
Since October 1, 1992, patients with terminal illnesses or victims of serious accidents can make out a "medical will" which doctors are bound to respect.
In France euthanasia is illegal, but the law does distinguish between active euthanasia -- the deliberate act of causing death, regarded as murder -- and passive euthanasia or "therapeutic abstention" -- regarded as refusing to medically prolong the life functions of a patient.
Under British law euthanasia is illegal. However, in 1993 and 1994 the courts did grant leave to doctors to end the lives of people artificially kept alive.
In June 1996 a patient in Scotland was "authorised to die."
The administration of a deadly drug in Germany is the equivalent of murder. The appeal court in Frankfurt has issued a judgement saying that euthanasia can only be agreed to by a supervising authority if it unambiguously corresponds to the wishes of the patient.
In the United States federal law forbids euthanasia. In November 1998 voters in the state of Michigan refused to legalize "assisted suicide" in a referendum.
Oregon is the only US state to have authorised euthanasia, in 1994, for terminally ill patients who formally request it. However, because a court opposed its enforcement, it has never been practised.
In April 1996 the federal appeals court in New York, which has jurisdiction over the states of Vermont and Connecticut, authorised euthanasia.
In South America, Colombia's constitutional court accepted the practice of euthanasia in May 1997 for terminally ill patients who expressly ask for it.
Asia and Australia:
In Australia the first law on euthanasia in the world was voted by the parliament of the Northern Territories in 1996, but the Australian government passed legislation overriding the law eight months later.
In 1998 in China the government authorised hospitals to practise euthanasia for people in the terminal phase of an illness if they formally request it.
In many other counties euthanasia is considerd murder and remains a taboo subject..
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