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.
A request for euthanasia must be approved by two doctors and an oversight board.
The law also states that "the death resulting from providing aid in dying shall be considered a natural death for all purposes.”
Bishop Luis Javier Argüello Garcia, auxiliary bishop of Valladolid and secretary general of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, has 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.
Euthanasia is also legal in Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the Australian state of Victoria.