Netherlands - Euthanasia Geraldine Coughlan reports from the Hague that the Netherlands today became the first country to legalize euthanasia. By a vote of 104 to 40, the Dutch parliament approved a bill to allow physician-assisted suicide. The new law states that doctors who help terminally ill patients end their lives must know their patients well. Euthanasia can not be practiced on foreigners who might travel to the Netherlands, hoping to end their lives. Euthanasia has been tolerated in The Netherlands for years. In 1993, parliament adopted guidelines for doctors to perform mercy killings. In theory, though, euthanasia remained a crime punishable by up to 12 years in prison.