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Where in Europe is assisted dying legal?

Where in Europe is assisted dying legal?
Picture credit: Marcelo Leal
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An Italian court referred a high-profile case against Marco Cappato, a euthanasia activist and ex-MEP, to Italy's top court on Wednesday (14 February) for his role in the assisted death of a former DJ.

Fabiano Antoniani, also known as DJ Fabo, was left quadriplegic after a car crash 2014. He chose to end his life with assisted suicide in Switzerland in February 2017, after three years of unsuccessful pleas to the Italian government to reform end-of-life legislation.

Cappato is accused of accompanying Antoniani to Zurich for the assisted suicide.

Italian news agency Ansa reported Cappato said helping Antoniani reach Switzerland to take his own life had been his "duty".

What is assisted dying?

Assisted dying refers to both voluntary active euthanasia and physician-assisted death. These two types of assisted dying distinguish a difference in the degree of the doctor's involvement. Voluntary active euthanasia involves the physician playing an active role in the patient's request to die, usually by supplying an intravenous lethal substance. Physician-assisted death implies that the medical personnel provides the patient with the lethal means to kill themselves, meaning it's the patient who employs them.

What is the general picture of assisted dying in the European Union?

Only three countries approve of assisted dying as a whole: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The first two even recognize requests from minors under strict circumstances, while Luxembourg excludes them from the legislation.

Switzerland, Germany, Finland, and Austria allow physician-assisted death under specific scenarios.

Countries such as Spain, Sweden, England, Italy, Hungary, and Norway allow passive euthanasia under strict circumstances. Passive euthanasia is when a patient suffers from an incurable disease and decides not to apply life-prolonging treatments, such as artificial nutrition or hydration.