Spain legalises euthanasia and assisted suicide for long-suffering patients with incurable diseases


Spain legalises euthanasia and assisted suicide for long-suffering patients with incurable diseases

  • The Bill was passed in 198-138 vote while Popular Party and Vox party voted ‘no’
  • Not put into effect until three months after it’s published in government gazette 
  • It will legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide for long-suffering patients
  • Spain is following in the footsteps of Iberian Peninsula neighbour Portugal 

Spain has legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide for long-suffering patients with incurable diseases.

The Bill, which was backed by Spain’s left-wing coalition government and several other parties, passed in a 198-138 vote. 

The conservative Popular Party and the far-right Vox party voted ‘No’.

The Bill will now continue its legislative journey, facing a vote in the Senate, where it is also expected to pass.

According to the draft of the law approved by the lower house, it will not be put into effect until three months after being published in the government gazette.

Spanish Socialist ruling party PSOE’s and Spanish governing partner Unidas Podemos’ MPs celebrate after the passing of the euthanasia bill supported by all parties except far right Vox and People’s Party during a plenary session at Congress of Deputies in Madrid

A small group of people gathered outside Madrid's lower house of parliament waving black flags with skulls and crossbones to protest against the bill

A small group of people gathered outside Madrid’s lower house of parliament waving black flags with skulls and crossbones to protest against the bill

‘As a society, we cannot remain impassive when faced with the intolerable pain that many people suffer,’ Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said.

Spain is following the footsteps of Iberian Peninsula neighbour Portugal, whose Parliament approved similar Bills to legalise medic-assisted suicide and euthanasia in February.

Those Bills have yet to become law and could yet face resistance from Portugal’s president.

Euthanasia – when a doctor directly administers fatal drugs to a patient – is legal in Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

In some US states, medically-assisted suicide – where patients administer the lethal drug themselves, under medical supervision – is permitted.

An activist protests outside the Congress of Deputies against the euthanasia bill that was being debated inside

An activist protests outside the Congress of Deputies against the euthanasia bill that was being debated inside

A small group of people gathered outside Madrid’s lower house of parliament waving black flags with skulls and crossbones to protest against the bill.

The law will allow health professionals, both public and private, to assist patients who express their wish to die rather than continue suffering ‘a serious and incurable disease’ or from a ‘debilitating and chronic condition’ the person considers ‘unbearable’.

Patients must ask to die on four different occasions during the process, which can last over a month.

Spanish Socialist ruling party PSOE's MPs Maria Luisa Carcedo (right) and Rafael Simancas (centre), next to Ciudadanos' Parliamentary spokesman Edmundo Bal (left), react after the passing of the euthanasia bill

Spanish Socialist ruling party PSOE’s MPs Maria Luisa Carcedo (right) and Rafael Simancas (centre), next to Ciudadanos’ Parliamentary spokesman Edmundo Bal (left), react after the passing of the euthanasia bill

The first two requests must be in writing and submitted more than two weeks apart.

The patient must reaffirm that request a third time after consulting with a doctor and a fourth time just before undergoing the procedure to end his or her life.

The process must be overseen by a medical team led by a physician and another doctor who acts as an external supervisor.

An oversight board in each region must approve requests.

The person asking to exercise his or her right to die must be a Spanish citizen or resident, of adult age, and able to make rational decisions.

The law will also allow any medical worker to refuse to participate on grounds of belief.

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