News / Europe

Decisions in France, Belgium Mirror Sharp European Divide Over Euthanasia

Belgium's New Child Euthanasia Law Gets Conflicting Reactionsi
X
February 14, 2014 1:30 PM
Belgian lawmakers have extended the right to die to terminally ill children, regardless of their age. Some Belgians approve of the decision, but others are outraged. Zlatica Hoke has more.

Related video report by Zlatica Hoke

Lisa Bryant
— A day after Belgian lawmakers approved groundbreaking legislation on child euthanasia, France's highest court deferred a decision on ending the life of a 38-year-old quadriplegic. Two sharply different outcomes reflect a larger euthanasia debate that is dividing Europe.

France's highest Court of Cassation chose Friday to seek further medical advice before ruling on ending the life of Vincent Lambert. The 38-year-old quadriplegic has been in a vegetative state since a 2008 car crash. His case is not only dividing his family, but also the nation.

Dr. Eric Kariger, who heads palliative care at the hospital treating Lambert, saluted the court's decision. In a radio interview, he said further medical feedback might help Lambert's tortured family. He hopes it will favor ending the man's life.  

Terminally ill patient, right to die

Lambert's doctors and some family members support passive euthanasia, by cutting off his intravenous food and water supplies, which is legal in France under strict conditions.

In a recent television interview, one of Lambert's sisters said it was less cruel to let him die than to let him linger in a vegetative state for years.
 
But Lambert's deeply Catholic parents are staunchly against euthanasia.

The Cassation court's non-decision stands in sharp contrast to neighboring Belgium, where lawmakers Thursday voted to legalize euthanasia for incurably ill children of any age -- but under strict conditions.  Belgium already legalized euthanasia in 2002, shortly after the Netherlands, which was the world's first country to do so.

Across Europe, the picture is equally mixed. Luxembourg allows adult euthanasia. And medically assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland. But other states, like Poland, are strongly against euthanasia.  

Passive euthanasia -- which means turning off life support, denying medications, food and water -- is legal in France. Active euthanasia -- which involves taking direct action to cause a terminally ill person's death, at that person's request -- is not.

Last month, French President Francois Hollande repeated promises to introduce new, end-of-life legislation. He said he will seek broad support for legislation that will allow adults with incurable diseases to ask for medical help to kill themselves if they face unsupportable physical and psychological suffering.

But Jean-Luc Romero, the head of ADMD, a pro-euthanasia group, argues the president isn't moving fast enough. He told French radio that passive euthanasia scares many French, because it suggests a slow death through no food or water. By contrast, polls show the majority of French support legalizing active euthanasia.

The Court of Cassation is to rule on Vincent Lambert's case in the next couple of months. But the larger euthanasia debate continues.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid