A new version of the bill supporting euthanasia was approved, this Friday, by the Assembly of the Republic (Parliament), with a majority vote from the ruling Socialist Party,
The bill, which allows for medically assisted suicide, will be presented to the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebello de Sousa, for his consideration.
The president has vetoed two previous versions of the bill. Both versions were then submitted to the Constitutional Court for review and returned to Parliament for approval.
The Portuguese Constitution requires the signature of Portugal’s President for a bill to become law.
President Rebelo de Sousa, a committed Catholic and moderate center-right politician, is known to have deep reservations about signing the bill into law. He may send the bill back to the Constitutional Court for review.
According to the proposal, euthanasia would be applied in Portugal under strict rules, when freely and repeatedly decided by an informed adult, “in a situation of intolerable suffering, with extremely serious and permanent harm … or incurable and fatal disease.”
Individuals over 18 years old would be allowed to request assisted suicide, if they are terminally ill and suffering from “lasting” and “unbearable” pain, except when mentally not fit to make such a decision. Under these conditions, patients seeking to terminate their lives will administer the drugs themselves, under medical supervision.
The procedure will only be open to national citizens and legal residents to prevent people from traveling to Portugal to get medical help to end their life.
If legalized; Portugal will become the eighth country in the European Union to allow terminally ill patients to seek medically assisted suicide. Several other EU countries have allowed euthanasia, namely Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. Countries such as Ireland, Scotland, and the United Kingdom may follow. Euthanasia has been legalized in New Zealand, Western Australia, and Canada. In the United States, although still illegal in most states, euthanasia is legal in California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Colorado, Vermont, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, including the District of Columbia. States currently seeking euthanasia legalization include New York, Connecticut, New Mexico, Maryland, and Massachusetts.