Spain has passed its first hurdle in legalising euthanasia following a crucial vote in the country’s parliament.
The vote on a bill on Thursday passed 198 to 138, having been backed by the nation’s left-wing coalition and several other parties, and will now face another vote in the Senate.
If the bill gets its expected approval in the Senate, it could be passed into law as early as spring 2021.
Under the proposed legislation, public and private health professionals will be able to assist patients who no longer wish to suffer “a serious and incurable disease” or a “debilitating and chronic condition” that is “unbearable”.
They would also need to be an adult Spanish citizen or resident who can make rational decisions, and who have asked to die on four different occasions during the process, which can be longer than a month.
The first two requests must be written and submitted two weeks apart, while the third must come after consulting a doctor.
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A final request should be made just before the procedure to end the patient’s life.
This process, the bill says, would be overseen by a medical team, with regional oversight boards approving requests.
Medical workers will also be able to refuse to participate on grounds of belief.
Spain’s conservative Popular Party and the far-right Vox party were among those to vote against the bill on Thursday, while protesters gathered outside the parliament building in Madrid, carrying black flags with skulls and crossbones.
The country’s health minister, meanwhile, insisted the law would be a necessary step for Spanish society.
“As a society, we cannot remain impassive when faced with the intolerable pain that many people suffer,” Salvador Illa said.
If passed, Spain would join the likes of Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland in legalising euthanasia.
Portugal has also approved similar bills for legalising medic-assisted suicide and euthanasia – although they have not yet become law.
Source : Sky News