Spain’s parliament on Thursday (18 March) voted through with a large majority a bill to legalise euthanasia, making the country the seventh in the world to do so, EURACTIV’s partner EuroEFE reports.
The law, which will come into force in June, was backed by 202 lawmakers. Another 141 MPs from the centre-right Partido Popular (PP) and far-right Vox voted against, while two abstained.
With the vote, Spain becomes the seventh country in the world where euthanasia is legal, joining the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Colombia, Canada and New Zealand.
The legislation was brought forward last year by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s ruling socialist party PSOE, following an internal debate on the right to decide to end one’s own life in cases of unbearable suffering, with no hope of healing or improvement.
It was amended by Spain’s upper house before being approved in parliament. Lawmakers from the ruling PSOE and its left-wing coalition partner Unidas Podemos (United We Can) hailed the development as “historic.”
From June, adults in Spain who suffer from serious and incurable illnesses or any serious chronic condition causing “intolerable physical or psychological suffering” without the possibility of cure or improvement, will be able to request medical assistance to die, which will be offered by the Spanish National Health System.
To exercise their right, patients must confirm their wish to die on at least four occasions throughout the process, which may take a little over a month from the time of the first request. Patients may withdraw or postpone the process at any moment.
The law also provides for the right of doctors to conscientious objection and establishes the creation of a Guarantee and Evaluation Commission in every Spanish region.
The parties who opposed the law, PP and Vox, stressed that palliative care should be the only legal option in such cases, echoing the voices of a large number of Spain’s Catholic community.
According to recent polls, 80% of Spain’s citizens supported decriminalising euthanasia.
[Edited by Daniel Eck, Paula Kenny and Josie Le Blond]