Legality of euthanasia

The attempts to change the national government policies on ‘ euthanasia have met, at the beginning of the XXI century, with limited success especially in some Western countries: policies to adopt towards euthanasia have been developed by a number of non-governmental organizations , in particular medical or defense of citizens’ rights. The will to legislate with regard to euthanasia and assisted suicide continues to be a source of heated and bitter debates in many countries 

Since 2002, euthanasia is legal only in the three countries of the Benelux , while assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland and in the states of Washington (State) , Oregon , Vermont and Montana of the USA ; while passive euthanasia is permitted in India and in a legal situation evolving both in Canada and in Mexico and Australia (in Spain have both been decriminalized since 1995). In Hungary passive euthanasia is permitted if requested by the patient.

Laws on euthanasia and assisted suicide for the country 


Euthanasia was legalized by the Belgian Parliament in September 2002 [2] . A survey published in 2010 reported that the deaths by euthanasia (compared to all the other deaths) were mostly young, sick with cancer (malignant tumor), male and mostly dead inside their homes: in almost all detected cases, it was also noted an unbearable physical suffering. Euthanasia for the terminally ill is not to be much more rare [3] .
The possibility of drawing up a forward declaration before witnesses, in order to take into consideration the expressed will, is planned by a royal decree issued in 2003 [4] ; the doctor has not, however, obliged to participate and can freely make conscientious objection .
Ten years after the adoption of the legislation Belgian Socialist Party requires an extension approach of the law, without taboo , to cases involving minors or persons in progressive loss of consciousness [5] ; other proposals for expansion of the law concerning those who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease [6] .
Outside of the Criminal Code, which condemns the murder, although committed at the request of the victim, as well as assisted suicide, there are no regulations which explicitly speak of euthanasia; practices mainly trying to limit the too aggressive medical therapy [7] .
The passive euthanasia is legal in Finland [8] ; until 2012 instead of the parliament it hath refused to legislate with regard to active euthanasia dividing the political world and the NGOs as an ethical problem, although a petition had collected 50,000 signatures [9] had tried to force the government to take consider the request [10] .
In July 2013, the French President François Hollande has declared his personal support for the decriminalization of ‘ voluntary euthanasia , which had been one of his campaign promises in the presidential elections ( to introduce the right to die with dignity! ); this despite the objections of the National Consultative Ethics Committee who argued “abuse” in the jurisdictions of adjacent countries (Benelux and Switzerland) that have decriminalized and regulated both voluntary euthanasia that assisted suicide.
It remains to be seen whether President Hollande will be successful in its objectives, since the Catholic Church in France along with other conservative groups have announced that after their strong opposition to the introduction of same-sex marriage , their next target could be just the refusal of any decriminalization of voluntary euthanasia [11] .
During the Third Reich in the thirties of the twentieth century euthanasia status for purposes of eugenics it was widely used on more than 150,000 people, including 6,000 children, in the program Aktion T4 (see Nazi eugenics ). Currently euthanasia is prohibited under German law, but in its passive form of assisted death is tolerated [7] .
In Ireland it is illegal for anyone, doctor or not, actively contribute to the death of someone; It is not, however, however, considered a crime the removal of life support and other treatments, when it has been espressanente requested by the patient or his next of kin. A 2010 survey showed that the majority (57%) of adults surveyed felt that the physician-assisted suicide should be legal for all those terminally ill that they had made free request [12] .
Any form of euthanasia is strictly illegal in Italy. In fact ( Welby case , the case Eluana ), passive euthanasia – through life support disruption – has sometimes been authorized by court decisions or who helped to implement it was considered “not punishable.”
The Luxembourg Parliament approved the law that would legalize euthanasia in 2008; the following year was approved again in the second reading, thus making the Grand Duchy small central European country of the third ‘ European Union (after the Netherlands and Belgium ) to have decriminalized euthanasia. The terminally ill are able to choose to end your own life and then it put in place; this after having received the prior approval of a medical team of experts [13] .
Euthanasia is illegal in Norway, although there is a reduction of sentence if the author helped to kill someone at the explicit and repeated request, on compassionate grounds, and when the person is suffering from a serious incurable disease [14 ] .
Already in 1973 a doctor was convicted of having favored the death of his mother, as a result of pressing explicit and repeated requests from the same of her death [15] ; while confirming the sentence the court ruling expressed the criteria of when a doctor would no longer be obliged to keeping a patient alive against his will: this set of rules was then formalized in the course of a number of cases judicial occurred during the eighties.
In 2002 the Netherlands has passed legislation that would legalize euthanasia, including assisted suicide [16] : this law encoding officially the old twenty-year agreement not to prosecute doctors who have committed euthanasia in some cases and very specific circumstances: the Ministry of public health, welfare and sport claims that this practice ” allows a person to end their lives with dignity after having received every available type of palliative care[17] .
The United Nations , in its Committee for Human Rights , have thoroughly checked and commented on the Dutch euthanasia law [18] ; in 2004 it was finally developed the “Groningen Protocol”, which establishes the criteria to be complied with to achieve the ‘ infant euthanasia without the physician may be subsequently prosecuted [19] .
Both active and passive euthanasia remains a crime in Portugal, but the ethical council has admitted the possibility of arrest of the heaviest treatments in some desperate cases, to the exclusion, however, hydration and nutrition [20] .
Euthanasia is illegal throughout the United Kingdom; any person found to make assisted suicide commits a crime and may therefore be convicted of incitement to suicide [21] [22] . Between 2003 and 2006 the Baron Joel Joffe of the House of Lords has tried several times to introduce bills that would have legalized voluntary euthanasia, but so far have all been rejected by the parliament and 4 [23] .
Until now, the doctor in rheumatology Nigel Cox is the only British doctor to be sentenced for attempted euthanasia, then 12 months suspended sentence in 1992 [24] . As for the principles of law already in 1957 during the trial of John Bodkin Adams it was determined that cause death through administration of lethal drugs to a patient, if the intention was only to alleviate suffering, can not be considered murder even if death is the potential outcome or even likely [25] .
Passive euthanasia and assisted suicide have been decriminalized in Spain in 1995 [20]
Active euthanasia is prohibited in Sweden, while assisted suicide is tolerated [26] .
Deadly drugs can be prescribed in Switzerland and a citizen to a foreign resident, but only in cases where the recipient has an active role in the administration of the drug [27] . More generally, the Art.115 of the Swiss Penal Code, which entered into force in 1942 (but already written in 1918) considers a crime to help a person to commit suicide only if the pattern follows the purpose of self-interest.
The passive euthanasia is permitted in Hungary on the patient’s request [20] .


Euthanasia is illegal in the Philippines; in any case, as early as 1997, the National Senate had considered the adoption of a bill to officially introduce passive euthanasia in the country, but the proposal met with strong opposition from the Catholic Church . According to the laws in force doctors to help a patient to die they can be charged and imprisoned [28] .
Japan at present has no laws regarding the practice of euthanasia and the Supreme Court has never ruled on the matter, there are, however, were two court cases – one in 1962 and another in 1995 – which gave way to a court utterance (although never confirmed at national level); the first concerned the passive euthanasia (allow the patient to die by stopping all the life support), the second active (by injection). The decisions were set out within the legal framework giving a series of specific conditions for considering legal euthanasia: It must have the patient suffering from an incurable disease and whose recovery is highly unlikely, it must give its explicit consent for the interruption of medical treatment, they must have exhausted all other suffering relief measures [29] .
Following various problems arising from this question a team is created bioethics called SWAT [30] , with the task to make themselves available for families of terminally ill patients to help them deal with problems together with doctors, to try to make the right decisions on the basis of the personal circumstances of each; there are, however, plans for ongoing ministerial subsidies to allow this to help the team can continue to carry out its work [31] .
The passive euthanasia (ie the refusal of the treatments for the continuation of life) is legal in India [32] . In 2011, the Supreme Court has legalized passive euthanasia by withdrawing life support to patients who are forced into a vegetative state permanent [33] [34] .
All forms of active euthanasia, including administration of lethal compounds, are instead all of the illegal [35] .
The Israeli criminal law explicitly prohibits causar death or accorciar life to another person; Active euthanasia is forbidden both by the law that from the religious. Passive euthanasia on the other hand, although condemned by the Jewish religion , in some specific cases has been accepted by the Israeli legislation [36] . In 2005, proposals have been made to allow passive euthanasia, to be administered through an automatic very similar to so-called “watch Sabbah” (energy collectors to accumulate for Saturday mechanism when any ignition of fires is prohibited action) [37 ] .
In 2006 it set up the Steinberg Committee consider whether the questions regarding life and death could be reconsidered in the context of Jewish law; it concludes by suggesting that hospitals could set up committees to determine whether patients were in principle favorable to the administration – in certain specific cases – passive euthanasia [38] .
Any practice of euthanasia is strictly forbidden in Turkey: one who helps a person to die is accused of incitement to suicide. In the case of active euthanasia PURSUANT TO ART.81 of the Criminal Code provides for the murder conviction.

North America 

Canadian laws regarding living wills and passive euthanasia is still an open legal question; the documents that define the guidelines for the “life-sustaining treatment through medical procedures” are under the control of the provinces, in Ontario for example is the law on consent for the end-life of 1996 [39] .
The passive euthanasia may include the power failure or the de-hydration, over which the suspension of any life-saving procedure. In Ontario, however, there are no effective guarantees that any deadline set by the living will is respected and then executed; authorization for a possible passive euthanasia can also be taken by members of the patient’s family (or their legal representative) in accordance with the medical staff. In some provinces we tolerate this form of passive euthanasia for terminally ill patients [40] .
While under section 241B of the Canadian Criminal Code it is illegal to help and support the suicide , s’affernma so that this is a crime punishable with a potential sentence of 14 years imprisonment; the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 2012 argued that such a provision imposes discriminatory charges on severely disabled people and therefore violates the “Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms” in its sections 7 and 15. In 2008, a jury Alma in the province the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean in Quebec has acquitted a man accused of having helped the old uncle gravely ill to commit suicide by hanging [41] .
So is euthanasia that the right to assisted suicide are currently in legal limbo: the federal parliament has begun to address the consequences of this situation in June 2013, while the medical associations have declared their neutrality on the issue [42] .
Active euthanasia is illegal in Mexico, but as of 2008 in Mexico City [43] the law allows patients or, if unconscious, relatives of terminally ill to refuse medication and any further life-prolonging medical treatment ; since 2009 in the central state of Aguascalientes [44] and in the West of Michoacán [45] .
A law very similar which covers the same provisions at national level had already been approved by the Federal Senate [46] and an initiative to legalize active euthanasia has entered the legislative chamber in discussion since 2007 [47] .
United States of America
Active euthanasia is completely illegal in most of the United States; the patient always retains the right to refuse at any time to continue to receive treatment and medical support, even though such choices may hasten death. In addition, the treatments deemed unnecessary or excessively burdensome, as the life-support machines, can be withdrawn in certain circumstances – under federal law – only with the informed consent of the patient or, in case of his inability, with that of his legal substitute.
The Supreme Court appears to have accepted in certain cases, passive euthanasia and / or active, not yet fully defined legally, when there is clear and convincing evidence that the practice is carried out at the express request of the patient or the legal representative informed consent. The assisted suicide is legal in five states of the union: Oregon , Vermont , Washington , Montana [48] , New Mexico and California [49] .


Euthanasia is illegal in Australia, except in the short period between 1995-97 when it was legal in the Northern Territory through a law on the rights of the terminally ill; the Australian federal government, however, has ruled out the possibility of such legislation through a specific law on the subject issued in 1997 [50] .
Unlike other states and territories of the legislation in the Northern Territory it was not guaranteed by the national constitution; prior to the approval of the 1997 law banning Dr Philip Nitschke has helped three or four [7] people to die using their device called “Deliverance Machine”: a computer, doing the patient a series of questions, automatically it runs a ‘ lethal injection of barbiturates if they are given the correct answers [51] .
Some organizations such as the ” Exite international “, founded and led by Nitschke himself, asking the government to restore the legitimate right to euthanasia within the Australian territory; the association has also promoted the spot television that managed to be aired before being banned, in September 2010 [52] .
New Zeland
Any mode assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia are completely illegal in New Zealand, under the law that criminalizes the help and incitement to suicide; two attempts to decriminalization, in 1995 and 2003 were rejected.