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End of life : let's agree on semantics

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[English] 21/04/2016

Euthanasia was decriminalized many years ago in the Netherlands and Belgium, both for adults and for minors. It has become common practice.
More recently, it has passed into law in Luxembourg and Colombia, and is in the process of being legalised in Canada. For its part, assisted suicide is tolerated in Switzerland and authorised in five US states (Montana, Oregon, Washington, Vermont and California).

In many rich countries, the debate on the end of life has made its way onto the political agenda and has already been subjected to a vote in Parliament, for example, in France, the UK and Germany.

It is clear that the debate on questions related to the end of life is not only an ethical debate. It is also a semantic debate. These questions are so delicate—probing a fundamental prohibition of our states of law and the very foundations of the mission of the medical profession—that it is absolutely essential to agree on the words and concepts used to be able to answer them. That is the purpose of this fact sheet.