Madrid, Spain, Mar 18, 2021 / 20:01 pm
Spain’s legislature passed a law Thursday to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. Catholic leaders have decried the measure as “a defeat for all”, which abandons those who suffer.
The Congress of Deputies, the lower house of Spain’s legislative body, approved the law March 18 by a vote of 202 in favor, 141 against, and two abstentions. All that remains for the law to go into effect is its promulgation in the Official Bulletin of the State; it is expected to take effect in June.
Patients who can request euthanasia must be adult Spanish nationals or legal residents who suffer from "a serious and incurable disease or a serious, chronic and incapacitating condition.”
The law defines such condition as a having “limitations that directly affect physical autonomy and the activities of daily life, such that the patient can’t fend for himself, as well as the ability to communicate with and relate to others, and that are associated with constant and intolerable physical or mental suffering for the patient with the certitude or great probability that such limitations will persist over time without the possibility of a cure or appreciable improvement. On occasion, it can mean absolute dependence on technological life support.”
A serious and incurable disease is defined as "one that by its nature causes constant and unbearable physical or psychological suffering without the possibility of relief that the person considers tolerable, with a limited life prognosis, in a context of progressive frailty.”
The law requires the National Health System to provide euthanasia, and while individual doctors can claim conscientious objection, medical facilities, even private, cannot object as institutions. Conscientious objectors will be listed on a registry.
It requires that before requesting euthanasia, the patient must be informed in writing of his medical condition, and of alternative courses of action and palliative care.
The law stipulates the patient has to have "voluntarily and in writing formulated two requests,” with a fifteen calendar day interval in between.