The Portuguese parliament on May 13, 2023 voted to approve a limited euthanasia bill for their citizens.
Per the provisions of the bill, citizens aged 18 and above shall apply for euthanasia and they shall be ‘assisted to die’ provided they are suffering any terminal disease or in intolerable suffering. The bill covers persons who are suffering “lasting” and “unbearable pain” unless mentally one is not deemed fit to undertake such
Persons eligible for this practice are Portuguese nationals and legal residents. However, Foreigners who travel into the country to seek the ‘assisted suicide’ are not eligible and shall be denied.
The euthanasia bill has been welcomed with unprecedented opposition as it has led to division in the devout catholic country and opposition from conservative President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, a devout catholic.
The bill was approved by parliament four times in the last three years but sent back every time for a constitutional review due to opposition.
The bill was passed after MPs voted 126 to 84 in favour of the bill. The authoritative version of the law was adopted on Friday with support from the governing Socialists, who hold an absolute majority in the chamber.
“We are confirming a law that has already been approved several times by a huge majority,” said Socialist MP Isabel Moreira, an advocate of legalising euthanasia.
Euthanasia is only authorized in cases where “medically assisted suicide is impossible due to a physical disability of the patient”.
Rebelo de Sousa has asked lawmakers to specify who would “attest” to whether a patient was physically incapable of assisted suicide but lawmakers this time refused to modify the text.
Rebelo de Sousa himself said approval of the law “wasn’t a great drama” and did not give rise to “constitutional problems”.
“There’s a good chance euthanasia will lead to even stronger resistance,” he stated
For their part, critics of medically assisted dying regret that the issue has not been put to a referendum and hope opposition deputies will once again ask the constitutional court to look into the bill.