Dutch parliament approves euthanasia
A bill legalizing mercy killing and doctor-assisted suicide overwhelmingly passed through the Dutch parliament yesterday, by a vote of 104-40. The New York Times notes that both are "already widely accepted" throughout the country: 2,216 patients were reported as killed by their doctors in assisted suicide cases last year, but because the procedure was officially illegal, many went unreported. The New York Times says the actual number is around 5,000. The BBC adds another statistic: more than half of Dutch doctors have performed a "mercy killing." Though there are many stipulations in the bill—the doctor must know the patient well, must be convinced the request is voluntary, etc.—the patient doesn't have to be terminally ill to be killed. And children as young as 16 may request assisted suicide without their parents' knowledge. (An original draft of the bill put the age of consent at 12.) The International Herald Tribune, BBC, and others note that the only opposition to the bill came from Christian political parties and the Roman Catholic Church. "Only God can decide when life ends," Calvinist Party leader Menno de Bruijn told his colleagues in Parliament. "Already many old and lonely people are made to feel there is no point in living, now those suffering from dementia will be at increased risk of having others decide on whether they live or die." Following the vote, the Vatican immediately released a statement. "It is a very sad record for the Netherlands to become the first to want to approve a law that goes against human dignity," said spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls. See more news links at Yahoo's full coverage area.

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