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Fitness & Health

18th Mar 2021

Spain to legalise euthanasia from June in landmark ruling

Danny Jones

The landmark ruling is being finalised today and will legalise euthanasia in the country from June.

Spanish parliament will gather on Thursday for final approval of a bill legalising euthanasia in the country. The new law will allow people with “serious and incurable” diseases that cause “unbearable suffering” to end their lives if that is their wish.

The law will come into effect in June and will allow for both medical professionals to deliberately end life, and to help patients carry out the necessary actions to end their own lives – i.e. ‘assisted suicide’.

This will be a landmark ruling, as there are very few other EU nations where euthanasia/assisted suicide is permitted. Outside Dignitas – the Swiss, non-profit organisation – only the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg allow this practice to be lawfully carried out.

Outside of Europe, New Zealand has also recently been voting on the issue of euthanasia, with the End of Life Choice Act 2019 set to come into effect in November this year.

In Spain, the request to end life must be submitted twice and 15 days apart, giving patients time to make sure it is the right decision for them.

Furthermore, the second request must be approved by another separate medical professional in agreement with both the patient and the first doctor. Lastly, requests can be refused at any point during the process if the person in question does not/no longer meets the requirements.

It is worth noting that as a traditionally religious and largely Catholic country, there has been plenty of resistance to the idea in Spain. Despite the fact that approximately 90% of Spaniards were in favour of euthanasia in a recent opinion poll, the Catholic church has publicly condemned the law, equating it to “a form of murder.”

The religious backdrop has regularly obstructed the decriminalisation of euthanasia over the years.

Only last year, Portugal deliberated over a similar bill which led to protests outside Parliament. Just last week, after having finally passed the bill in January, the constitutional court overturned the decision, saying the legislation is too imprecise and needs to be further evaluated with “the necessary rigour”.

In Ireland, a bill to legalise assisted dying in Ireland, sponsored by Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny, was passed in the Dáil by 10 votes last year and is being considered by the Committee on Justice. The closing date for public submissions to be considered as part of the Committee scrutiny of the bill was 29 January.

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