Luxembourg to strip Duke of powers over euthanasia

Luxembourg's Grand Duke Henri attends an official gala at the Hungarian Opera hall during events marking 50 years since the 1956 anti-communist revolution in downtown Budapest October 22, 2006. 23. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - Luxembourg’s government plans to strip Grand Duke Henri’s power to sanction laws after he signaled he would not sign a bill legalizing euthanasia.

Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who rushed back from an economic summit in Brussels, told a news conference on Tuesday that his government would seek a rewording of the constitution.

“That means he will only technically enact laws,” Juncker said.

Luxembourg is a constitutional monarchy in which the Grand Duke holds executive power and bills only becomes law with his signature.

Luxembourg’s parliament backed a law in February to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, which would add the Grand Duchy to a small group of countries that allow the terminally ill to end their lives.

The law would let those with incurable conditions die if they asked repeatedly to do so and had the consent of two doctors and a panel of experts.

It was due to have a final reading later this month.

Juncker, whose Christian Social Party had opposed the euthanasia bill, said the constitution would be revised before the bill was read again and that he expected this could happen before the end of the year.

In 1990, King Baudouin of neighboring Belgium, the Grand Duke’s uncle, abdicated for a day to avoid signing a Belgian law liberalizing abortion that he opposed on religious grounds.

Additional reporting by Antonia van de Velde, writing by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Charles Dick