Spain legalizes euthanasia and assisted suicide for long-term patients with incurable diseases
- The bill was passed by 198-138 votes while the People’s Party and the Vox party voted “no”
- Do not enter into force until three months after its publication in the government gazette
- It will legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide for long-suffering patients
- Spain follows in the footsteps of Portugal, neighbor of the Iberian Peninsula
Spain has legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide for long-suffering patients with incurable illnesses.
The bill, which was supported by Spain’s left-wing coalition government and several other parties, was passed by 198-138 votes.
The Conservative People’s Party and the far-right Vox party voted “No”.
The bill will now continue its legislative course, facing a vote in the Senate, where it is also expected to pass.
According to the bill approved by the lower house, it will not come into force until three months after its publication in the Official Journal.
MPs from the ruling Spanish socialist party PSOE and its partner in the Spanish government Unidas Podemos celebrate after the adoption of the bill on euthanasia supported by all parties except the far right Vox and the People’s Party during a plenary session at the Congress of Deputies in Madrid
A small group of people gathered outside the lower house of the parliament in Madrid waving black flags with skulls to protest against the bill
“As a society, we cannot remain impassive in the face of the intolerable pain that many people are going through,” said Spain’s Minister of Health, Salvador Illa.
Spain is following in the footsteps of Iberian Peninsula neighbor Portugal, whose parliament approved similar bills in February to legalize physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.
These bills have not yet been adopted and could still face resistance from the Portuguese president.
Euthanasia – when a doctor directly administers deadly drugs to a patient – is legal in Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
In some states in the United States, physician-assisted suicide – where patients administer the deadly drug themselves, under medical supervision – is permitted.
An activist protests in front of the Congress of Deputies against the bill on euthanasia which was debated inside
A small group of people gathered outside the lower house of parliament in Madrid, waving black flags with skulls in 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 to suffer from “a serious and incurable disease” or a “debilitating and chronic disease” that the person considers “unbearable”.
Patients must request to die four times during the process, which can take more than a month.
PSOE MPs, Spain’s ruling Socialist Party, Maria Luisa Carcedo (right) and Rafael Simancas (center), next to Ciudadanos parliamentary spokesperson Edmundo Bal (left) react after the adoption of the bill on euthanasia
The first two requests must be in writing and submitted more than two weeks apart.
The patient must reaffirm this request a third time after consulting a doctor and a fourth time just before undergoing the intervention to end his life.
The process should be overseen by a medical team led by a physician and another physician who acts as an external supervisor.
A supervisory board in each region must approve the requests.
The person who requests to exercise their right to die must be a citizen or resident of Spain, of legal age and capable of making rational decisions.
The law will also allow any medical worker to refuse to participate on the basis of creed.