Portugal becomes the sixth EU country to legalize assisted end-of-life procedures, Source: Depositphotos

Portugal legalizes euthanasia

Portugal legalizes euthanasia

This makes it the sixth country in the European Union to allow the end-of-life procedure

It’s taken more than two years since first introduced as a bill into the legislature, but now euthanasia has been formally decriminalized in Portugal. This happened after the country’s president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa signed the bill into law, but not before having vetoed it four times previously.

That number of vetoes is also the maximum allowed by the Portuguese Constitution. In essence, the conservative president would have liked to overturn the bill, however, the Parliament is composed in favour of making assisted suicide a legal option in the Iberian country.

Opinion polls have shown that public opinion also reflects the situation in the legislature. This makes Portugal the sixth EU country to allow the end-of-life procedure as a last resort for terminally ill patients.

The details

The new law specifies that people will have the right to request assisted dying in cases where they are "in a situation of great suffering, with a definite injury of extreme gravity or a serious and incurable disease".

Psychological support to the patients requesting it will be mandatory and there will be a two-month interval between accepting a request and the actual procedure.

The main centre-right opposition Social Democratic Party said it would appeal the law to the Constitutional Court, however, the bill had also spent time there previously during one of President Rebelo de Sousa’s attempts to delay its transformation into a law.

With the decriminalization of euthanasia, traditionally Catholic Portugal is shaping up as one of the most progressive societies in Europe. Drug use in the country was decriminalized back in 2001, abortion was legalized in 2007 and so was same-sex marriage in 2010. The Netherlands was the first country to legalize euthanasia in the world in 2002.



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