By Hilary White

ROME, December 11, 2008 ( – The US-based Alliance Defence Fund (ADF) has announced they will be launching a legal challenge to a new law in Luxembourg legalizing euthanasia. Last week, the world was shocked when the parliament of the tiny but venerable European state of Luxembourg proposed to strip its head of state, the Grand Duke Henri, of his veto powers when the latter announced he would refuse to give royal assent to the law.

The ADF, a network of Christian attorneys, announced today that attorneys were standing ready to offer pro bono legal assistance to physicians willing to bring suit regarding the constitutionality of the law.

ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska, who is based in Europe, said, “Everyone deserves a chance to recover. The proposed legislation does not allow for that, and we believe it is unconstitutional.”

Kiska warned Americans that the “culture of death does not stay contained within foreign borders.”

“American courts are increasingly pointing to the laws of foreign countries in their own decisions.”

A proposal brought forward by Luxembourg’s Minister of State, Jean-Claude Juncker, to change the constitution to remove the veto powers of the Grand Duke has been approved by the country’s Constitutional Commission. The proposal would change the constitution so that the signature of the Monarch would no longer be necessary for a law to take effect. The Grand Duke has said that for him this issue is a “question of conscience.”

Should the euthanasia law come into effect, Luxembourg will become the third country in the European Union to legalize the practice. The proposed law will allow doctors to kill patients diagnosed as “terminally ill” if the patient requests it and two doctors and a panel of “experts” agree.

Luxembourg has a population of under half a million people in an area of approximately 2,586 square kilometres, but is significant for its historical importance. Although it is officially a secular state, Luxembourg’s population is predominantly Roman Catholic, with 87 percent professing membership in the Church. Its head of state, the very popular Grand Duke Henri de Luxembourg, is one of the last European monarchs with concrete ruling powers.

A letter to the Luxembourg monarch from Human Life International lauded the Duke’s determination not to be party to the legalisation of euthanasia in his country. Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, STL, president of Human Life International (HLI), said that the action of His Royal Highness is a courageous one in the face of international opposition.

Fr. Euteneuer wrote, “Please accept on behalf of all the associated member organizations of Human Life International in eighty countries our greatest admiration for your courage in refusing to sign the legislation legalizing euthanasia in Luxembourg.”

“Your well-formed Catholic conscience is a precious gift that honours the Royal Family of Luxembourg, as one of the greatest responsibilities of the monarchy is the duty to resist demagoguery and all attacks on public morality.

“You have our deepest admiration and support in this battle to respect life. Thank you for the magnificent example that you have given to all the heads of state in this difficult period of history.”

This week, Monsignore Ignacio Barreiro, the head of the Rome office of Human Life International, attended a demonstration in support of the Duke’s decision at the offices of the Luxembourg embassy in Rome. He told that the issue is important because it is an example of a man acting according to a “rightly formed conscience.”

“His Royal Highness should be praised,” he said, “for having taken a stand in defence of life, and acting according to his rightly formed conscience.”

“It’s very, very important to insist that the only conscience that has rights, that has to be followed, is one that is rightly formed,” in accordance with objective moral norms.

News media is calling the Luxembourg situation an “unprecedented” constitutional crisis; in fact, however, it is not the first time a Catholic monarch has had his legal powers removed for his refusal to accede to the desires of anti-life campaigners. In 1990, King Baudouin I of Belgium, described as a deeply religious Catholic, refused royal assent to a law that legalised abortion.

The Belgian constitutional problem was “solved” when King Baudouin asked the government to declare him temporarily “unable to reign” to allow him to avoid signing. Baudouin’s monarchy was suspended for a day, during which all members of the government signed the bill. The next day the government declared that Baudouin was capable of reigning again and he was reinstated. After Baudouin’s death, Belgium went on to become a world leader in the Culture of Death, expanding abortions and legalising euthanasia.

Read related coverage:

Luxembourg Parliament Passes Euthanasia Bill

Grand Duke of Luxembourg Loses Veto Power after Threatening Veto of Euthanasia Law