Spanish lawmakers on Thursday passed a law to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide for people with severe and incurable illnesses who want to end their suffering.
The ruling passed the lower house of parliament with 202 votes in favor and 141 against and two abstentions.
“Today we are a more humane, just and freer country. The euthanasia law, widely demanded by society, finally becomes a reality,” Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Twitter.
What is the new law?
The legislation allows medical staff to intentionally end a life to relieve suffering, known as euthanasia, and assisted suicide, meaning the patient carries out the procedure.
Patients have to be Spanish citizens or legal residents and must be fully conscious when they request the mercy-killing.
A request is to be submitted twice in writing, 15 days apart. It must be approved by two separate medics and an evaluation body.
Doctors have the right to reject requests if they believe requirements were not met.
Mercy-killing was carried a jail term of up to 10 years under Spanish law.
How is euthanasia perceived in Spain?
Far-right parties and religious groups strongly oppose the new legislation. The Vox party said it would challenge the law before the country’s constitutional court.
Supporting and opposing groups reportedly protested outside the parliament during the debate.
Euthanasia has long been a topic of public debate in Spain. An Academy Award-winning 2004 film titled “The Sea Inside” told the story of a man’s assisted suicide in 1998 who was denied that right by Spanish courts.
A 2019 poll showed that the majority of people in Spain supported mercy-killing.
Euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Portugal’s parliament also approved a bill to legalize assisted suicide, but the country’s top court blocked the decision.
By DW News