Choosing Death

A new Dutch law makes euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide easier

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IN MOST PLACES, A DOCTOR WHO HELPS A TERMINALly ill patient commit suicide could face prosecution. But not in the Netherlands, which has just stepped into the vanguard of the right-to-die movement. Its parliament approved the world's most liberal rules on euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide. Both practices are still technically illegal, but doctors won't be charged if they notify coroners of their actions and if they follow certain guidelines. Among them: the patient must be mentally competent; must be suffering unbearable pain and request euthanasia repeatedly; and the doctor must consult a second physician before proceeding.

While restrictions are loosening in the Netherlands, they are tightening in some parts of the U.S. Reacting to Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who had helped 12 people commit suicide as of last week, Michigan has enacted a law making doctor-assisted suicide illegal beginning next month. Kevorkian says he'll ignore the law.