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Austrian top court allows assisted dying

Patients in Austria will be allowed end their lives with the help of others, the Constitutional Court has ruled on Friday, lifting the country’s ban on assisted dying.

Killing someone on his or her request will remain illegal, the top court stressed.

Several citizens had asked the judges to repeal the current rules.

They include a 56-year-old bed-ridden man who suffers from multiple sclerosis and is unable to commit suicide without outside help.

Another claimant is a doctor who would like to assist in such cases without facing legal and professional consequences.

The current total ban “violates the right to self-determination,” the court ruled.

The free decision to end one’s own life must be respected, the judges said.

Court President Christoph Grabenwarter acknowledged, however, that patients’ decisions can also depend on outside factors such as their economic situation and how well they are being cared for.

Laws and policies are therefore needed to ensure that patients get adequate support, he stressed.

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