Austria government submits draft law legalizing assisted dying

The Austrian federal chancellery on Saturday sent a draft law to parliament to legalize assisted death for seriously ill adults.

The draft law follows the decision last December by the Constitutional Court of Austria that found the ban on assisted death to be unconstitutional. The court found that the ban violated the right to self-determination, which includes the right to a dignified death. By implication, therefore, the court found that self-determination includes the right of a person wishing to commit suicide to seek the assistance of a third party.

The law provides that only chronically or terminally ill adults can make provisions for assisted death, and that a guardian or other representative of the person cannot do it for them. The legislation specifically prohibits minors, who have the right to make a living will, from making a decision regarding assisted death. Those seeking assisted death must consult two doctors who can attest that the person can make their own decisions. Additionally there must be a delay of 12 weeks between the decision and implementation, which can be reduced to two weeks in the case of persons who are terminal and in the final phase of their illness.