Spanish politicians moved towards legalising euthanasia with the lower house approving a bill to allow the seriously ill the right to end their life – despite strong opposition from the right wing and religious groups.
The controversial bill, which allows for euthanasia and assisted suicide for people with ‘serious and incurable’ or debilitating diseases that cause ‘unbearable suffering’ was passed by a 198-138 vote and will now move to the upper house – which can pass it into law or return it with amendments for consideration.
There was a small but noisy demonstration outside the Congress of deputies – if the senate allows the move, it could become law by next spring and make Spain the fourth country in the European Union to legalise euthanasia after Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
At present. Helping someone end their life carried a maximum jail term of 10 years, yet almost 90% of Spaniards were in favour of the decriminalisation of the practice in a 2019 poll.
Outside parliament, protests wore masks and brandished skull and crossbones flags – holding up a banner reading ‘government of death’.
Euthanasia is considered to be homicide by the Roman Catholic Church and both the centre right Partido Popular and far-right Vox have fiercely opposed the move in the debate both in parliament and outside.