The Luxembourg parliament has narrowly approved a bill that would legalize euthanasia and allow doctors to help patients commit suicide, Agence France-Presse reports.
Thirty of the fifty-nine lawmakers voted in favor of the bill, with nearly all the members of Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker’s Social Christian Party voting in opposition to the bill.
The bill must be approved at a second reading before it can take effect.
"This bill is not a permit to kill," said Socialist lawmaker Lydie Err, who helped draft the legislation.
"It's not a law for the parents or the doctors but for the patient and the patient alone to decide if he wants to put an end to his suffering," she added.
The legislation says that euthanasia will be strictly regulated and can be mentioned in a “living will.” Doctors will have to confirm with a colleague that the patient suffers from a “grave and incurable condition.” A national commission including doctors and officials would be created to review euthanasia requests on a case-by-case basis.
If passed, the bill would make Luxembourg the third European Union country to legalize euthanasia, following the Netherlands and Belgium.
World Congress of Families Global Coordinator Larry Jacobs reacted critically to the news, saying, "Europe is quickly slipping into a new Dark Age, in the words of Winston Churchill, 'made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science’."
"Euthanasia proponents always assure us that the act will be voluntary," Jacobs observed. "But the devil is in the details. Frequently, if a patient is unable to indicate consent, this life-or-death decision is made for them by a relative or a physician."
"We hope parliamentarians will have second thoughts about unleashing this lethal measure on the people they serve," Jacobs declared.
A 2005 report by the Dutch government concluded that in 2004 an estimated 550 individuals who were comatose or otherwise unresponsive were killed in the country.