Spain’s parliament voted for euthanasia on Thursday. A new bill will allow physician-assisted suicide to avoid the unbearable permanent conditions, SF Chronicle has learned.
Spain joins the small group of nations where euthanasia is legal. The new law was backed by Spain’s MPs, passed in a 198-138 vote. Traditionally, the conservative Popular Party and the far-right Vox party voted “No” to the euthanasia perspectives in the catholic country.
After approval in Parliament, the bill will continue its legislative path through a vote in the Senate where it is also expected to be approved. However, the historical law won’t go into effect until three months after being published in the government gazette.
Commenting on the MPs voting, Health Minister Salvador Illa said: “As a society, we cannot remain impassive when faced with the intolerable pain that many people suffer”.
In its efforts to bring some relief to the terminally-ill patients, Spain is following Portugal where parliament has already approved similar bills to legalize physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in February. In the neighbouring country, those bills have yet to become law and could yet face resistance from Portugal’s president.
Spain’s government to support euthanasia
Euthanasia takes place when the professional medic, a doctor, directly administers fatal drugs to a patient. Such human procedure is already legal in Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland. In some US states, it is also permitted.
On Thursday, a small group of people gathered outside Madrid’s lower house of parliament to protest the euthanasia bill. At the same time, groups that support legislation to legalize medically assisted suicide planned marches of solidarity to celebrate the passing of the historical bill.
Under that law, health professionals, both public and private, could 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.”
The entire process must be overseen by a medical team led by a doctor who acts as an external supervisor. 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, Spain remains mostly Catholic nation.