Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Though it failed twice, the new Socialist-led Spanish government has crossed the first hurdle of passing a law to legalize euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide. The parliament voted in favor by a count of 201 to 140 to accept the bill for consideration. The bill will now go to a parliamentary health committee for discussion and then head to the Senate before returning to the lower house for a final vote.
If it becomes a law, Spain will become just the fourth country in the European Union to allow euthanasia, following in the footsteps of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands in allowing a physician to humanely kill a patient upon the patient's request. Spain will also join Switzerland and a handful of states in the U.S. in allowing physician assisted suicide, in which the patient is prescribed the death-inducing drug by a physician but administers it themselves.
Recent opinion polls in Spain have indicated broad public support for the left-of-center coalition government’s plans. The issue of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide has met resistance from conservative politicians and the Catholic church. Doctors unwilling to be involved in the procedure can opt out as conscientious objectors, but a replacement doctor must be found.
Portugal will also debate a similar proposal next month.
See Barry Hatton, Spanish Government Passes 1st Hurdle to Legalize Euthanasia, Everything Lubbock, February 11, 2020.