Spain poised to legalise euthanasia, assisted suicide
Spain’s parliament will give final approval to a law legalising euthanasia Thursday, becoming one of the few nations to allow terminally-ill or gravely-injured patients to end their own suffering.
The legislation, which will take effect in June, follows growing public pressure generated by several high-profile cases, including that of Ramon Sampedro whose plight was immortalised in the Oscar-winning 2004 film “The Sea Inside”.
Speaking to AFP, Ramona Maneiro, a friend of Sampedro’s who helped him die, hailed the move as a victory “for those who can benefit from it” and “for Ramon”.
At the time, she was arrested but released due to lack of evidence, only admitting her role years later when the statute of limitations expired.
The move will see Spain become the fourth country in Europe to decriminalise assisted suicide, alongside the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Although Portugal’s parliament passed a similar law in January, it was blocked this week by the Constitutional Court.
The Spanish legislation will permit euthanasia in which medical staff intentionally end a life to relieve suffering, and assisted suicide in which it is the patient who carries out the procedure.
Various other countries permit the second option, as well as so-called “passive euthanasia” in which life-saving medical treatment is halted.
– Strict conditions –
Backed by leftwing and centrist parties, the legislation will allow anyone with a “serious or incurable illness” or a condition which is “chronic or incapacitating” to request help dying, thereby avoiding “intolerable suffering”.
But it imposes strict criteria: the patient — a Spanish national or a legal resident — must be “fully aware and conscious” when they make the request, which must be submitted twice in writing, 15 days apart.
The request can be rejected if it is believed the requirements have not been met; it must be approved by a second medic and by an evaluation body…..read more