On Friday (29 January 2021), in a rather historic move, Portugal’s parliament voted to legalise euthanasia. With this decision, the country has become only the seventh in the world to authorise terminally ill patients to seek assistance from a doctor to end their life.
However, the law legalises the practice only in certain cases and under strict rules.
Reportedly, only those people above the age of 18 will be allowed to request assistance in dying if they are terminally ill and suffering from “lasting” and “unbearable” pain. However, they can not get help if deemed not to be mentally fit to make such a decision.
Moreover, the process will only be available to national citizens and legal residents of the country in order to prevent people from travelling to Portugal to get medical help to end their life.
From next week, the law will be in the hands of President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa for a final stamp of approval. Interestingly, President Marcelo Rebelo is a conservative who has previously said he will respect parliament’s vote. He will now have 20 days to consider it.
Speaking on the matter, Left Bloc lawmaker Jose Manuel Pureza said, “With this vote, parliament added dignity to our democracy.” He referred to the approval by 136-78 votes with four abstentions a “democratic answer to fundamentalism and fear.”
Meanwhile, in a letter to parliament, two groups managing care homes said approving euthanasia meant “disrespect for all these people”.