BERLIN – Austria’s ruling conservatives have pushed through a bill to legalize assisted suicide after saying they won public approval for the move.
National leaders of the conservative People’s Party presented the draft on Tuesday with the support of the governing Social Democrats, which had previously rejected the idea, according to the news agency dpa.
The draft legal reform allows any Austrian to legally help another person to die in Switzerland, with a special exemption for the country’s people with disabilities.
“This is a solution that is a positive outcome from the point of view of the disabled population,” People’s Party leader Sebastian Kurz said after the announcement. “I can only welcome the move of the three governing parties, which have shown courage and created confidence among Austrian society.”
Kurz also claimed that the proposal was supported by around 55 percent of the Austrian public.
The bill, if approved by parliament, would turn Austria into the latest European nation to legalize assisted suicide, following the introduction of a similar law in Belgium in 2003.
In addition to Belgium, Luxembourg, Luxembourg Netherlands and Oregon, six other European countries — Greece, Germany, Croatia, Malta, Poland and Russia — have amended their criminal code to decriminalize assisted suicide.
But some people have been punished for carrying out an assisted suicide abroad: Twelve Germans were charged with facilitating terminally ill patients’ suicides in Switzerland over the past decade. Some of those cases were cases investigated by Germany’s state authorities.