Portugal Legalizes Euthanasia

Portugal recently passed a law that legalizes euthanasia, becoming one of the few countries in the world to do so. This move has sparked intense debate within the deeply Catholic country, with conservative president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa expressing strong opposition.

Age Requirement and Suffering

According to the new law, individuals over the age of 18 are eligible to request assistance in dying. However, the law specifies that it only covers individuals experiencing “lasting” and “unbearable” pain, ensuring that the decision to pursue euthanasia is made in cases of extreme suffering.

Scope of the Law

It’s important to note that the law will only apply to Portuguese nationals and legal residents. Foreigners seeking assisted dying in Portugal will not be covered by the legislation, highlighting the limitations of the law within the country’s borders.

The Road to Approval

The euthanasia bill underwent a lengthy legislative process, receiving approval from the parliament on four separate occasions over the past three years. However, each time it was sent back for constitutional review due to opposition from President Rebelo de Sousa. Eventually, the definitive version of the law was adopted with support from the governing socialists, who hold an absolute majority in the chamber.

Promulgation and Implementation

Following its adoption, the law now awaits promulgation by President Rebelo de Sousa. He has one week to sign it into law, after which it could come into force by the autumn. This represents a significant milestone in the lengthy battle for legalizing euthanasia in Portugal.

Reasons for Vetoing Earlier Bills

President Rebelo de Sousa vetoed earlier versions of the euthanasia bill, citing concerns about “excessively undefined concepts” and contradictory language. He argued that further clarification was necessary regarding terminal conditions and the determination of physical disability preventing medically assisted suicide.

Global Perspective

While Portugal’s decision to legalize euthanasia may seem relatively swift compared to other countries, it remains a topic of ongoing debate. Currently, euthanasia and assisted suicide are permitted in only a few countries, including the Benelux nations and Portugal’s neighboring country, Spain.



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