Dutch euthanasia ruling condemned by churches

 The decision by Holland to legalise euthanasia has been denounced by church and human rights groups. The Dutch senate gave formal approval to the new law on Tuesday evening, by 46 votes to 28. Under the new law, Holland is the first country in the world where euthanasia will be allowed under the following conditions: -the patient must have an incurable illness -he or she must be experiencing "unbearable suffering" -the patient must be of sound mind and have given consent -the termination of life must then be carried out in a medically appropriate manner. The legislation goes into force when the Dutch monarch, Queen Beatrix, signs the law and its details are published in the official media, a process expected to take about two weeks. The Vatican has condemned the decision, which they say amounts to a violation of human dignity. The Vatican daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said: "We find it hard to believe that such a macabre choice can be seen as a 'civil' and 'humanitarian' one." Killing a patient is a criminal act and doctors conducting mercy killings are similar to executioners, the editorial said. The Polish Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, said the Dutch were following in the footsteps of Nazi Germany who systematically killed people who were physically disabled or mentally handicapped. He said: "It is an attempt by man to correct God. Human life is not in our hands, because we are not the giver of life." The Catholic aid agency, Caritas, said the decision was a "dangerously comfortable path," where getting rid of sufferers was more important than easing their pain. The Dutch Christian Patient Organisation said some people were beginning to feel pressured into asking for euthanasia. But Jacob Kohnstamm, president of the Dutch Voluntary Euthanasia Society, said he had received thousands of supportive letters and e-mails from countries including the UK, France and Belgium. He said: "Someone has to be first. There's nothing to be proud of and nothing to be ashamed of... Within 25 years, most countries will have a euthanasia law," he said. In New Zealand, MP Chris Carter said he is considering introducing a private member's bill based on the Dutch law.

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