The Spanish Parliament yesterday finally approved the legalization of euthanasia. This makes Spain one of the few countries in the world where a patient with an incurable disease can die to end their suffering.
This law, which is due to come into force in June, was passed by a large majority of 202 out of 350 MPs, thanks in particular to the votes of the left and the center, with part of the semicircle rising and extensively applauding the announcement of the census.
141 right-wing and right-wing extremists voted against, two abstained.
Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who made this law a priority, welcomed it and described Spain in a tweet as “a more humane, fairer and freer country”.
“Thanks to all the people who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the right to die with dignity is recognized in Spain,” this law is “finally becoming a reality,” he added.
Spain is the fourth European country after the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg to decriminalize euthanasia.
The Portuguese parliament also passed a law legalizing euthanasia at the end of January, but the Constitutional Court on Monday rejected the text, which will be forwarded to MPs.
Spanish law allows both euthanasia – that is, when the caregiver causes the patient’s death – and medically assisted suicide – when the patient himself takes the prescribed dose of the product to kill himself.
It stipulates that anyone with “a serious and incurable disease” or “chronic pain that places them in a situation of incapacity” can seek the help of the medical profession in order to avoid “unbearable suffering”.
However, strict conditions determine the process: the person, Spanish or resident in the country, must therefore be “able and aware” when applying, which must be formulated in writing “without external pressure” and renewed fifteen days later. The doctor can reject this application at any time if he is of the opinion that these criteria are not met, or if he asserts “his conscientious objector”. In addition, it must be approved by another doctor and given the go-ahead from an evaluation committee.
The enactment of this law came after several emblematic cases in the country over the last few decades, including that of Ramón Sampedro, a quadriplegic who was starred on screen by Javier Bardem in the Oscar-winning film “Mar adentro”.
It is a victory “for the people who will benefit from it” and also “for Ramón”, congratulated Ramona Maneiro, Mr Sampedro’s friend, who helped him die in 1998.
Against this reform, the Spanish Catholic Church compared euthanasia to “a form of murder”, while the right-wing extremist party Vox announced that it would appeal to the constitutional court.