Large Europe majorities for assisted suicide: survey

Fri Nov 30, 2012 5:54am EST
 
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By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

PARIS (Reuters) - Large majorities of west Europeans favor the legalization of assisted suicide, now allowed only in four countries on the continent, according to a new survey.

In almost all the 12 countries polled, three-quarters or more of those responding to questions posed by the Swiss Medical Lawyers Association (SMLA) said people should be able to decide when and how they die.

Two-thirds to three-quarters of them said they could imagine opting for assisted suicide themselves if they suffered from an incurable illness, serious disability or uncontrollable pain.

"In practically all European countries, many signs indicate that the prevailing legal system no longer reflects the will of large parts of the population on this issue," the SMLA said.

The results of its poll "should allow politicians to take democratic principles into account when considering legislation on these issues," it added in its introduction to the study.

Assisted suicide is now allowed only in Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Switzerland. The German government has proposed legalizing it as long as no profit is involved while France is debating whether to allow it.

GERMANS MOST OPEN, GREEKS LEAST WILLING

In both Germany and France, the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches oppose legalizing euthanasia and argue for better palliative care to ease pain for dying patients.   Continued...