Praha - The non-parliamentary political party Liberálové.cz have presented its second draft bill that would legalise consensual euthanasia in the Czech Republic.
Compared with the previous version, which was voted down by the Senate, the new proposal is more moderate, allowing doctors to only assist a terminally ill patient to commit suicide.
"The difference between version 1 (Belgium) a version 2 (Switzerland) is that ... it limits the definition of euthanasia to an assisted [suicide]. This means the doctor cannot 'induce a termination of life' for example in people lying in a coma, but can only assist a dying patient to terminate his or her life," said Milan Hamerský from Liberálové.cz.
Involuntary euthanasia 'unacceptable'
An active role of the doctor in killing the patient, as stipulated in the earlier version, was in the past criticised by politicians including some euthanasia supporters, such as MP Boris Šťastný (Civic Democrat). "This would devastate the whole idea of boosting the individual's freedoms and [the bill] lacks checks against abuse. It is ethically unacceptable," he said about the earlier proposal.
The new draft bill stipulates that euthanasia could only be requested by a terminally ill patient after the exhaustion of all available methods that might improve his or her condition. The patient's signature will have to be verified by a notary.
The bill does not specify what types of death the patient could choose from; this would be stipulated in a regulation issued by the Health Ministry. A pharmaceutics specialist could assist the physician in the preparation of the deadly substance.
The new proposal to legalise assisted euthanasia are not likely to be adopted any time soon. The previous version was submitted to the upper chamber of the parliament by Senator Václava Domšová, who no longer holds the post.
To boost support for their proposal, Liberálové.cz want to organise a petition and find more allies among politicians.