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Portugal parliament votes to allow euthanasia, uncertain if law will hold

ANTI-EUTHANASIA RALLY IN PORTUGAL IN 2020

PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA | AFP

John Burger - published on 05/12/23

Legislators override president's veto in move that would make country the fourth in Europe to legalize killing by doctors.

Portugal’s parliament has voted to make the country the fourth nation in Europe to allow euthanasia.

The parliament voted to override the veto of Portugal’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and allow doctors to euthanize persons in extreme suffering as a result of an incurable disease or severe injuries who cannot end their own lives. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the legislation, especially among Socialist Party members. 

The bill has been debated for three years.

André Ventura, leader of the far-right Chega Party, had demanded a referendum on the subject of euthanasia, according to the BBC. He told parliament during the debate that he did not believe that the new euthanasia law would ever come into force. Even if it does, he said, “there will not be a single doctor in Portugal” prepared to euthanize a patient. 

Under Portuguese law, the president must now sign this bill within eight days of receiving it, once it is published in the official gazette.

“But the reform can be derailed in the meantime, or at least delayed, if one in 10 members of parliament formally ask the Constitutional Court to review the legislation,” the BBC explained. “Several PSD members of parliament have already declared their intention to do so.”

Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands already allow euthasia, while several European countries permit some form of physician-assisted suicide. 

On a previous attempt to legalize the practice, the Permanent Council of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference (CEP) said it would mean “giving up on alleviating suffering and giving the wrong idea that a life marred by pain and suffering does not deserve more protection and becomes a burden on oneself, on other people, on health services and on society as a whole.”

The bishops renewed their call to protect life instead, “especially when it is more fragile,” by facilitating access to palliative care, “which the majority of Portuguese citizens do not yet have.”

Tags:
DeathEuthanasiaHealth and WellnessPortugalPro-life
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