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The Exit Internationalist

June 12, 2022

Portugal’s Parliament resumes battle to legalise euthanasia

Reuters, Catarina Demony

Portugal’s Parliament resumes battle to legalise euthanasia reports Reuters.
 
After two presidential vetoes, Portugal’s parliament delivered another strong vote on Thursday in favour of decriminalising euthanasia in the Catholic-majority country, although the bill still faces a bumpy road to become law.

The country’s debate on making medically assisted death legal under certain conditions started in 2018, when parliament rejected a bill that would have legalised it. But the debate carried on after the issue secured enough support.

In January 2021, a previous legislature passed the first bill to legalise it, but conservative president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa vetoed it due to “excessively undefined concepts.”

Portugal's Parliament resumes battle to legalise euthanasia

Last November, lawmakers approved a revised bill, but the president vetoed it again, arguing the language used to describe terminal conditions continued to be contradictory and needed to be clarified.
 
The revised bill approved by lawmakers on Thursday addressed some of his concerns, specifying that people would be allowed to request assistance in dying in case of a “definitive injury of extreme gravity” or a “severe and incurable disease”.

Portugal’s Parliament resumes battle to legalise euthanasia

The Socialists’ bill was passed by 128-88 votes, with five abstentions.

It will now be reviewed by lawmakers before a final vote after which it will be sent to Rebelo de Sousa, who can either sign it into law, veto it again or send to the Constitutional Court.

“Our free and serene decision cannot be conditioned by desperate campaigns of those who insist on not accepting that the decriminalisation of medically assisted death is the will of the vast majority of the country,” Catarina Martins, leader of the Left Bloc, told parliament.

Speaking to reporters earlier this week, Rebelo de Sousa said he would wait to receive the final version of the bill before commenting.

If euthanasia is decriminalised, Portugal would become the fifth country in the European Union allowing the procedure after neighbouring Spain legalised it in March last year.