Politics, Europe

Portugal’s Parliament votes to legalize euthanasia

Country could soon become 7th to allow physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill if president approves

Alyssa McMurtry   | 29.01.2021
Portugal’s Parliament votes to legalize euthanasia

OVIEDO, Spain

Portugal's parliament passed a law on Friday to legalize euthanasia, pending approval by the country's recently re-elected president.

The bill would legalize doctor-assisted suicide for Portuguese adults in situations of "extreme suffering and irreversible damage."

It would also require the person choosing to die to have the ability to make "free and informed" choices.

The bill passed with a large majority -- 136 lawmakers voted in favor, while 78 opposed it and four others abstained.

It is now in the hands of the country's center-right President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

He has the option to approve the law, veto it or pass it to the Constitutional Court for review.

If vetoed, the Portuguese Parliament would be able to approve it on a second vote.

Portuguese Catholic Bishops released a statement Friday expressing their "sadness and outrage," while urging that the bill be brought before the Constitutional Court.

"It's absurd to legalize death [...] rejecting the lessons that this pandemic has taught us about the precious value of human life," said the statement.

Critics of the legislation also cite an article in the country's constitution describing human life as "sacrosanct."

If the law does pass, Portugal will become one of a handful of countries to legalize active euthanasia, joining the Netherlands, Canada, Colombia, Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as the state of Western Australia.

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