Assisted suicide is legal in Austria: what happens now

Assisted suicide is legal in Austria: what happens now

Austria has decided to take a step forward to reach the countries that have legalized euthanasia. In Italy, however, the debate has been rekindled

Deciding about one’s life is a universal right, deciding one’s own death, on the other hand, is something that cannot yet be contemplated by others. From everyone except for Austria which has legalized assisted suicide since 1 January. A historic turning point that however does not come like a bolt from the blue since this topic has kept the debate on Austrian territory for some time, but also in Italy and other countries

But now Austria has made its decision, thus joining Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland, all places where euthanasia is granted in one way or another, in one form or another. . Assisted suicide legalized in Austria involves the administration of a lethal drug to the terminally ill or to people suffering from incurable diseases, to be taken in total autonomy.

Assisted suicide: Austrian law

The Austrian law, passed in parliament in December and entered into force on January 1, has received support from the political majority supporting the government. A historic ruling by the Constitutional Court which provides for access to assisted suicide by terminally ill patients or by people suffering from incurable diseases that cause heavy consequences on a physical and emotional level.

All requests to access assisted suicide will be carefully examined by the two doctors and approved three months after the request, so that no decision is driven by impulsiveness. In the case of the terminally ill the procedures, on the other hand, will be reduced.

A historic turning point that rekindles the debate in Italy

Austria’s historic decision did not go unnoticed and reignited the debate on the possible legalization of euthanasia. Our country has also come back to talk about it, and more precisely by discussing the proposed law Provisions on medically assisted voluntary death.

Also in our case it is a topic that cannot be overshadowed because it has been dealt with several times in history. Our Constitutional Court had already considered the possibility of legalizing euthanasia in some particular homes.

But the road is very long and treacherous because the possibility of making assisted suicide accessible not only divides politicians, but also public opinion. It is enough to look at the past years to find in the complicated and dramatic stories of Eluana Englaro and Terri Schiavo all the fear, the prejudice and the little knowledge that there is towards euthanasia.

The story of Terri Schiavo was perhaps the first to kick off the debate on the end of life. Only after 15 long years of suffering and legal battles, was she allowed to die. A similar fate befell Eluana Englaro. To fight against that therapeutic fury that went against article 32 of the Constitution, there was Beppino, her father who had to wait and endure 17 years of a vegetative coma so that his little girl could rest in peace. And after all the pain and fatigue, he will still be considered a killer by others.

The long procedural events that have involved our country seem more relevant than ever now that Austria has decided to take a step forward to reach Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. But the real question is: are we ready to do the same?

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