The bishops pointed out that euthanasia could be carried out "unrelated to objective situations of uncontrolled and uncontrollable agony and pain."
Bishop Luis Javier Argüello Garcia, auxiliary bishop of Valladolid and secretary general of the Spanish Bishops' Conference, urged doctors who don't want to participate in euthanasia to exercise conscientious objection.
He also cautioned against a defeatist attitude, seeing the new law as an opportunity "to promote a culture of life and to take concrete steps to promote a living will or advance declarations that make it possible for Spanish citizens to express in a clear and determined way their desire to receive palliative care," instead of assisted suicide or euthanasia.
Bishop Argüello urged doctors "not to induce death to alleviate suffering," but instead to treat the patient with "tenderness, closeness, mercy, encouragement, and hope for those people who are in the final stage of their existence, perhaps in moments of suffering that need comfort, care and hope."
The bishops' conference also issued a guide for patients to create a living will that "specifies that appropriate treatments be administered to alleviate suffering," but excluding euthanasia.
Those opposed to the law have pointed out that what the country needs
instead of euthanasia is access to palliative care. Out of an estimated 120,000 patients in need of palliative care, 50% do not have access.
The bill was introduced by the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, and in February 2020 the Congress of Deputies approved it for consideration. Debate began Sept. 10.
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez, leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, tweeted shortly after the March 18 vote, "Today we have become a country that is more humane, fairer and freer."
The conservative Popular Party and the far right party Vox have opposed the law. Vox has said it will challenge the law in Spain's Constitutional Court.
The Bioethics Committee of Spain had unanimously rejected the underlying principles behind the bill in its October report.
The 12-member CBE, which is responsible for issuing reports on matters with relevant bioethical implications, unanimously reached the decision to advise the government that the proposed law is not valid from an ethical point of view.
(Story continues below)
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Euthanasia is also legal in Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the Australian state of Victoria.
Portugal's legislature recently legalized euthanasia, but the country's Constitutional Court blocked the law and President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa vetoed it.