The Head of State in Luxembourg is set to lose his power to veto legislation after he said he would not sign a law allowing euthanasia.
Grand Duke Henri, the 53-year-old hereditary sovereign of the small European state, is the last Grand Duke in the world.
He said he would not sign the law decriminalising euthanasia for conscience reasons and has sparked a constitutional crisis.
Although the Prime Minister is also opposed to legalising euthanasia, he and members of the Luxembourg Parliament now want to amend the state’s constitution to remove the Duke’s power of veto.
An online petition has been set up in support of Grand Duke Henri, saying that removing his power would result in “a true constitutional takeover”.
The proposed law will allow doctors to end the lives of “terminally ill” patients who request it. Two doctors and a panel of “experts” must agree.
The Luxembourg Parliament is set to vote on the measure on Thursday, 18 December.
Lawyers from the religious liberty legal group, Alliance Defense Fund, say they will step in to legally challenge the euthanasia law if it is passed.
ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska says the group will intervene legally if the law is passed.
“Everyone deserves a chance to recover. The proposed legislation does not allow for that, and we believe it is unconstitutional,” said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska.
“We are prepared to go to court to challenge the law if Luxembourg’s parliament passes it.”
Controversy over assisted suicide, a creeping form of euthanasia, has been raging in the UK this week.
Sky TV caused an outcry when it broadcast footage of a man ending his life at a suicide clinic in Switzerland.
The BBC also courted controversy by screening a one-sided documentary on assisted suicide, fronted by an MSP who has launched a Bill on the issue in the Scottish Parliament.
The UK Government says it intends to “modernise” the law on assisted suicide for England and Wales in the coming session of the Westminster Parliament.
But doctors group the British Medical Association says it is opposed to allowing assisted suicide. It fears that patients may make decisions while in a vulnerable and fragile frame of mind.