Portugal’s parliament will approve legislation Friday that allows medically assisted suicide under certain conditions.
Adults will only be allowed to do this if they have a valid, repeated, serious, informed, and free wish.
The person must be in “a state of intense suffering, with definitive injury or incurable disease.”
Only a few countries have the measure in their midst.
After a difficult week, which saw proceedings delayed when the Socialist politician who was leading the bill offered changes to members only hours before the vote, the final version was approved by committee on Wednesday.
The main opposition made a desperate call for a referendum.
According to opinion polls, roughly half of the country’s Catholic population supports medically assisted suicide. The Church strongly opposes this.
However, the Social Democratic Party (center-right) called for a suspension of the legislative process and a referendum. This allowed Friday’s final reading.
In 2020, the first proposals to allow medically assisted suicide were approved. This prompted international headlines about Portugal becoming the fourth European country to allow euthanasia.
Portugal’s conservative President Marcelo Rebelo De Sousa raised questions about the legality and sent it to the Constitutional Court. Some of his concerns about imprecise language were accepted by the Court, but not all.
That same parliament then modified the bill to address the objections. After the bill was sent to President Obama in November to be enacted by him, he blocked it again, but this time without involving the court, but by exercising his “political right to veto”. He claimed that the clauses describing terminal condition were inconsistent and required clarification.
Further delays were caused by the president’s veto of an amended bill. The president then disbanded parliament and called an early-general election. This meant that the legislative process regarding euthanasia had to be restarted from scratch. However, the election gave Antonio Costa, the Socialist Prime Minister, a majority for his first time.
The new government was supportive of the principle medically assisted suicide. Work quickly began on a similar bill. However, there were additional requirements for a minimum of two months after a request was made, and a psychological evaluation of the person making the request.
It is expected to pass easily because many of the opposition members support it. Although it could be true that the president could veto this new bill, it is unlikely.
English law makes euthanasia illegal. It is also considered murder or manslaughter.
It is legal in three European countries, namely Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. However, assisted death and passive Euthanasia of many types are legal in many other European countries.