Across Europe, assisted dying is the focus of intense legal battles and controversies, with recent examples including the case of Vincent Lambert in France, or that of DJ Fabo in Italy.
But where is assisted dying legal? Euronews looks at the state of legislation in different EU countries.
What is assisted dying?
Assisted dying refers to both voluntary active euthanasia and physician-assisted death. These two types of assisted dying distinguish a difference in the degree of the doctor’s involvement. Voluntary active euthanasia involves the physician playing an active role in the patient’s request to die, usually by supplying an intravenous lethal substance. Physician-assisted death implies that the medical personnel provides the patient with the lethal means to kill themselves, meaning it’s the patient who employs them.
What is the general picture of assisted dying in the European Union?
Only three countries approve of assisted dying as a whole: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The first two even recognize requests from minors under strict circumstances, while Luxembourg excludes them from the legislation.
Switzerland, Germany, Finland, and Austria allow physician-assisted death under specific scenarios.
Countries such as Spain, Sweden, England, Italy, Hungary, and Norway allow passive euthanasia under strict circumstances. Passive euthanasia is when a patient suffers from an incurable disease and decides not to apply life-prolonging treatments, such as artificial nutrition or hydration.