Late last week, a radical new Euthanasia bill passed into law by a free vote in the National Assembly in Quebec. The bill, Bill 52, passed Thursday afternoon, by a margin of 94 to 22 with no abstentions.
On Thursday, the Belgian Parliament voted by a significant majority to legalize euthanasia for terminally ill children. The new legislation will extend the existing euthanasia law in Belgium which decriminalized the practice for adults. The law will also legalize the practice to adults suffering from dementia.
Last week, the Belgian Senate heard evidence from medical experts as legislators began the process of considering an amendment on the country’s euthanasia law to cover minors. Euthanasia has been legal in Belgium since 2002 but has, since its enactment, been prohibited for patients under 18.
The 2012 “Act Relative to Death with Dignity” goes before Massachusetts voters on November 6. Question 2 asks voters directly whether to legalize physician-assisted suicide (PAS) or uphold existing state statutes. If voters affirm Question 2, Massachusetts would join Oregon, Washington and Montana as the only states in the U.S. to allow this practice. Recent studies on PAS in these states paint a revealing portrait of what would transpire in Massachusetts if voters approve Question 2. However, unlike citizens of Oregon who passed the first “Death with Dignity Act” in 1997, voters in Massachusetts have the benefit of learning the actual outcomes of such legislation in other states. Voters now have access to numerous studies that both vindicate opponents’ predictions about PAS and present even more concerns.