Austrian assisted suicide bill aimed at people with disabilities

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In December 2020, the Austrian Constitutional court decided that the law preventing assisted suicide was unconstitutional because it violated a person’s right to self-determination. The Austrian assisted suicide bill seems very similar to other assisted suicide legislation other than it contains a longer waiting period.

However, according to a Reuters news report

The new law lays out the conditions under which assisted suicide will be possible in the future, following a ruling by Austria’s Constitutional Court last December according to which banning assisted suicide was unconstitutional because it violated a person’s right to self-determination.

The new law allows chronically or terminally ill adults to make provisions for an assisted suicide.

They have to consult two doctors who have to attest the person is capable of making his or her own decisions. A delay of 12 weeks also has to be respected that can be reduced to two weeks for patients in the final phase of an illness.

When assisted suicide is permitted for chronically ill people, as Reuters states this law permits, the law will become fairly wide open. Many people with disabilities, who are not otherwise dying, have chronic conditions. People with disabilities already experience significant pressure when needing life-sustaining medical treatment, would now qualify for assisted suicide based on their chronic condition.

The Austrian assisted suicide bill, lauded as a tightly worded bill, is similar to other assisted suicide laws with the exception that it appears to contain a longer waiting period for people who are not actually dying.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.