Delving into Luxembourg’s Legislation on Euthanasia & Living Wills

On July 9, 2018, lawyers from across Europe congregated at a church in Lucca, Italy, to discuss topics perhaps uncommon for such a setting: the legislation surrounding euthanasia, assisted suicide, palliative care and living wills.

Charles Kaufhold, Partner at Kaufhold & Reveillaud, Avocats, stepped up to the podium to break down Luxembourg’s adoption of two laws that expanded the avenues for end-of-life treatment:

  • The Law of 16 March 2009 on euthanasia & assisted suicide
  • The Law of 16 March 2009 on palliative care, advance instructions & end-of-life accompaniment

A topic that once drew heated ethical debates in Luxembourg has given way to public support against a backdrop of medical and technological breakthroughs that extend life further than ever before.

“Luxembourg law on euthanasia and assisted suicide offers patients the option to die when their suffering is considered unbearable,” Kaufhold explained. “Patients in this situation have the freedom to choose how their lives will end.”

He went on to detail the strict legal and medical conditions in place to ensure that end-of-life decisions are strictly voluntary.

The living will comes into play when a patient can no longer express his or her wishes due to advanced stages of a terminal or incurable illness.

These two laws safeguard patients’ wishes in all states of consciousness, notably when they are at their most vulnerable. Through detailed procedures and conditions, iterated during the presentation, they attempt to preserve humanity up to the final moments.

“One can say that these laws, which gave rise to a signifiant amount of discussion before they were adopted, are now well accepted as laws that provide help to those who wish to end their suffering,” he concluded.

The Bar of Lucca and European Bars Federation jointly organized this occasion, bringing together lawyers from across the continent to discuss relevant topics shaping today’s legal landscape.

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