Portuguese parliament approves law authorizing euthanasia

 Portuguese parliament approves law authorizing euthanasia 

Portugal's parliament on Friday approved a law allowing assisted death making the Catholic country the fourth country in Europe to allow euthanasia when legislation comes into force.

A further 136 deputies supported the legislation, 78 against and four abstentions.

law authorizing

 Portuguese parliament approves law authorizing euthanasia 

The law will be referred to the conservative President Marcelo Rebelo de Souza, who will either be able to pass it or refer it to the Constitutional Court or use the veto. However, this veto could be overturned by deputies in a second round of voting on the law.

The bill won the support of the majority of the votes of members of the Socialist Party, whose deputies were given the freedom to vote, as well as some deputies of the center-right Social Democratic Party(SPD), votes from the left bloc (extreme left) and an animal welfare party.

The outcome of the final vote was decided after several pro-euthanasia provisions were adopted last February by a majority of deputies.

The new law, which combines all these proposals, stipulates that the right to resort to assisted suicide is limited to Portuguese adults living in the country who have "extreme suffering and permanent physical damage" or who are suffering from a "severe disease".

The disputed patient must obtain the consent of several doctors to request termination of his or her life, as well as a psychiatrist, in the event of doubts about the ability of the person to make a "free and informed" choice.

When the time comes for execution, the doctor must make sure one last time that the patient wishes to end his or her life, with witnesses.

These euthanasia operations can be performed in NHS institutions or elsewhere "selected by the patient" provided they meet "appropriate clinical conditions and amenities".

The Portuguese President, who was re-elected for a second term on Sunday, a committed Catholic, avoided making a public position on the subject.

Portugal joined Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, becoming the fourth European country to allow euthanasia.

Spain also took a step in this direction last month, but the government bill will be referred to the Senate by the end of March.

In October, the Portuguese parliament rejected the draft referendum on euthanasia, following a petition by a Catholic organization that garnered nearly 100,000 signatures.