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Luxembourg parliament limits monarch's legislative role

[JURIST] The Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies [official website, in French] on Thursday voted to amend [text, PDF, in French] the country's constitution to eliminate the requirement that its Grand Duke approve legislation before it becomes law. The country's parliament passed the amendment [Tageblatt report, in German] by a vote of 56-0, with one abstention. It reduces the Grand Duke's legislative role under article 34 of Luxembourg's constitution [text, PDF, in French] from both sanctioning and promulgating laws, to merely their promulgation. The amendment came after the country's current monarch, Grand Duke Henri [official website, in French], said he would not approve a bill passed by the parliament earlier this year that legalizes euthanasia [JURIST report]. Supporters of the change say the amendment modernizes the country's constitution in line with other countries which reserve a purely ceremonial role for their monarchs. Henri has said he will approve the amendment. The second reading of the euthanasia bill, a step necessary for it to become law, will take place on December 18.

The Netherlands [BBC report] legalized euthanasia in 2001 and Belgium [JURIST report] followed suit in 2002. In February 2007, the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland [official website, in German] ruled that people with serious mental illnesses may be permitted to commit physician-assisted suicide [JURIST report] under certain conditions. A proposed bill that would legalize assisted suicide in the United Kingdom was set aside by the House of Lords in May 2007 following opposition by physician groups [JURIST reports]. In January 2006, the US Supreme Court upheld Oregon's Death with Dignity Act [JURIST report]; Oregon is the only US state that allows physician-assisted suicide. Euthanasia remains illegal in Italy, France [JURIST reports] and Spain.

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