BELGIUM, May 17, 2002 ( – Belgium partially legalized euthanasia yesterday, becoming the second country in the world after the Netherlands to sanction murder in specific circumstances under the guise of “mercy killings.” The bill, passed 86 to 51 with 10 abstentions, is expected to come into force in three months. The law allows a doctor to kill his patient if the person is terminally ill and suffering “constant and unbearable physical or psychological pain” from an accident or incurable illness, and if that patient requests death. The doctor must also be satisfied that the patient is “of age and conscious” and has made the decision to be killed freely, without coercion.  As the Netherlands has well demonstrated, legal restrictions to euthanasia are not worth the paper they have been written on, once a country has moved to a place where it is willing to tolerate assisted suicide. The practice was already widespread in the Netherlands before it was formally legalized earlier this year.  Another measure in the legislation that legislators hope will prevent abuse of the euthanasia provision “gives each patient the right to receive ongoing treatment with pain killers to ensure that poor or isolated patients do not ask to die because they do not have money for treatment,” reports Associated Press. “Federal and regional authorities would be responsible for providing such care, while doctors asked to carry out a mercy killing would be obliged to inform patients that such care was available.” The opposition Christian Democrat party has said it may fight the law in the European Court of Human Rights.  The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition in Ontario laments the fact that the legislators in Belgium have followed the lead of their Dutch neighbour.  Spokeman Alex Schadenberg states “We are concerned that vulnerable people (disabled, elderly, chronically ill, and the poor) in Belgium will now find themselves forced into “choosing” an earlier death or killed against their consent. The dutch courts have already allowed euthanasia for the depressed we fear that Belgium will soon follow their lead. It is sad to note that the Nazi euthanasia program which resulted in more than 200,000 vulnerable people to be killed, seems not to have taught us any lessons.