After being adopted by the country’s parliament in December, a new law permitting assisted suicide for terminally ill patients went into effect in Austria.
Those over the age of 18 who are suffering from a “incurable, terminal illness” or a significant permanent condition with disabling consequences that “cannot otherwise be avoided” will be able to apply for assisted suicide beginning on Saturday.
After receiving consent from two doctors, one of whom should be qualified in palliative care, the patient should wait 12 weeks – or two weeks in the case of terminal disease – to consider the decision. They should next notify a lawyer or a notary public in order to document all steps of the process. The individual can then be given a deadly medicine
The Austrian Chamber of Pharmacists will prepare and keep up to date a list of pharmacies where such prescriptions are dispensed, but the list will not be made public to prevent abuse.
Austrian Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein has stated that the government’s primary goal is to “protect the fundamental right to self-determination” while taking all necessary safeguards against potential threats.
Some people, however, criticized the law. Aside from moral concerns highlighted by the Catholic Church, some critics stated the 12-week contemplation period was too short and that the patients’ psychological examination was insufficient. Some, on the other hand, expressed worry that the law made the procedure overly cumbersome.
Active suicide help is still banned in Austria. Offenders might face up to five years in prison if convicted. (RT)