On Thursday, the Spanish parliament legalized euthanasia in the country with a new law. Out of 350 deputies, 202 voted for the law, and 141 against the proposal, the AFP agency reported. Spain has thus become the fourth country in the European Union that allows citizens to end their lives with the assistance of a doctor.
The passage of the law was one of the goals of the left-wing government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, while the right-wing parties and the Catholic Church disagreed with the proposal.
The law, coming into force in June, will allow access to euthanasia only to Spanish citizens and residents. Only people who have a serious and incurable disease will be able to apply to end their life. Each application will be assessed by several doctors and a board of evaluators.
The proposal was supported by left-wing government parties and some organizations defending the interests of patients with incurable diseases. The conservative People’s Party and the Vox movement were against the proposal. Spanish bishops indicated they thought euthanasia was “still a kind of murder“.
There is also disagreement among Spanish doctors on the issue too, however, the law will allow public health doctors to refuse to perform euthanasia based on their conscience.
Euthanasia in the European Union was only possible in three countries — Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. A similar law was approved in February by the Portuguese parliament but the country’s constitutional court, which was approached by the president, returned the legislative text to lawmakers for revision of some points.
The approval of the law was also accompanied by demonstrations. Protesters gathered in front of the Congress of Deputies in Madrid holding signs stating, for example, “the government of death“.
Title image: Several people disguised as grim reapers hold a banner reading “Government of death” during a demonstration by Christian Lawyers at the gates of the Congress of Deputies, in Madrid (Spain), March 18, 2021. Eduardo Parra / Europa Press 03/18/2021 (Europa Press via AP)