A Swiss member of the European parliament is lobbying the Council of Europe to decriminalise euthanasia, as the Netherlands and Belgium have already done. Dick Marty says that euthanasia is widespread in Europe and needs to be regulated, not left in the shadows. (Euthanasia is illegal in Switzerland, but authorities normally accept assisted suicide.) A report he has written has been narrowly accepted by the social, health and family affairs committee of the Council, but rejected several times by the parliamentary assembly. Last week he presented the report again, but did not ask the assembly to vote on it.
Marty says that the assembly is split between northern and western Europeans who are sympathetic to euthanasia and southern and eastern Europeans who are hostile to it. Marty has called upon the Council to study how widespread euthanasia really is, to promote public debate and to study the feasibility of legalising it in some way. He contends that the European Court of Human Rights has never declared that legalised euthanasia is incompatible with the European convention on human rights and that both Belgium and the Netherlands have declared that it is.
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