Portugal’s parliament voted in favour of decriminalising euthanasia for the third time after the past two attempts to pass the legislation were vetoed by the country’s president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. “Medically-assisted death” was legalised by Belgium and the Netherlands more than two decades ago and several European countries have followed suit in the last few years. However, Portugal is yet to join the list due to the conservative approach taken by top authorities.
The Socialist party, which enjoys an absolute majority in parliament, voted in favour of decriminalising euthanasia. However, the bill will only be passed after the president signs it.
The president said Thursday that he will take his decision “certainly before Christmas”.
Reuters reported the bill advocates “the right to life cannot be turned into an obligation to live under any circumstances”. However, it has been opposed by various groups recently with Catholic Doctors’ Association saying that it “brings Portugal closer to more permissive legislation”.
According to the latest bill, euthanasia will be reserved for adults with “serious and incurable illness” and patients who have made a “reiterated” and “free and informed” personal decision.
In 2021, after the legislation won the parliamentary vote for the second time, it was sent to the constitutional court. Although the court said that it can be allowed with a few amendments, the president of the country still decided to not sign on it citing religious reasons.