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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Luxembourg parliament adopted a law late on Tuesday to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, adding the Grand Duchy to a small group of countries that allow the terminally ill to end their lives.
The law, expected to come into force towards the summer, was passed by 30 votes to 26. Luxembourg's media said it was a symbolic defeat for Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker whose Christian Social Party opposed it.
"The Christian Social Party and the Catholic church were against the euthanasia law, calling it murder but we said no, it's just another way to go," said Jean Huss, a member of parliament of the Green Party and co-sponsor of the bill.
Huss said he expected that the legislative process needed for the law to come into force would take a few more months and would most likely be implemented towards the summer.
The Netherlands became the first country to permit assisted deaths for the terminally ill in April 2002.
Opponents there had drawn parallels with Nazi Germany, where authorities killed thousands of disabled children and mentally ill adults.
Huss said fears that old people would be pressured to commit suicide were groundless, given the checks and balances built into the law.
Euthanasia would be allowed for the terminally ill and those with incurable diseases or conditions, only when they asked to die repeatedly and with the consent of two doctors and a panel of experts.
There are Debates over euthanasia in a number of countries throughout the world, such as Mexico, Australia and China.
The euthanasia trial of a French doctor and a nurse charged with killing a terminally ill cancer patient in 2007 also fuelled a debate over medical ethics in France.
Additional reporting by Michele Sinner; Editing by Elizabeth Piper