The Spanish Parliament, voted yesterday to legalise euthanasia ensuring that the country becomes only the sixth in the world to allow physician-assisted euthanasia for patients with incurable diseases or unbearable permanent conditions.
The Congress of Deputies voted 202-140 along a left-right split with two abstentions on the final passage of the government´s euthanasia bill, as protesters from both sides gathered outside the Spanish lower house during the debate.
Legislators from the PSOE / Podermos Unidad left-wing governing coalition supported it, while the right-wing Partido Popular and Vox parties voted against the bill.
The main opposition Partido Popular stated that they would introduce legislation to reverese the decision should they be elected to power in a future election.
The Health Minister Carolina Darias hailed the passing of the bill as an important step “towards the recognition of human rights.”
The bill was a key part of the PSOE electoral programme and has undergone several rounds of amendments during it´s parliamentary passage in committees and the upper house, Senate.
The law will come into effect within three months.
There have been several high profile cases in Spain over the last few years — most recently that of Madrid resident Angel Hernandez who was arrested after he admitted to police that he had helped his wife, Maria Jose Carrasco end her life just before calling them on 3rd April 2019.
In most countries the practice is classed as a crime and is only either legal or sanctioned by courts in Belgium, Canada, Luxembourg, Colombia, and the Netherlands.
In Switzerland and a handful of U.S. states, medically assisted suicide — when patients self-administer lethal drugs under medical supervision — is permitted.
Under the new law, the legal process is clearly set out under the conditions in which a patient may seek to get state approval to die which consist of two requests in writing followed up by consultations with medical professionals not previously involved in the case. Only after a fourth and last statement where patients repeat their desire to die, does a regional case committee of experts give the final go-ahead.
The law allows medical workers to excuse themselves on ethical or religious grounds.