Spain is close to becoming only the sixth country in the world with a law regulating euthanasia. MPs in Congreso voted overwhelmingly in favour last week and the planned legislation now only needs to go the Senado, the upper house, for approval.
The vote was 198 in favour and 138 against. Parties on the left and liberals voted in favour, as well as the Basque and Catalan nationalists. Against were the conservative PP, the right-leaning UPN (Navarre regional party) and hard-right Vox.
If the Senado approves, the law could come into effect as early as March next year. Its clauses include provision for the public health system to make available its facilities and treatments to help people who choose to die.
It would give permission to those who had “a serious, incurable or debilitating illness”, which a medic would need to certify.
Health Minister, Salvador Illa, said that the text of the new law was, “modern and gave guarantees”. He added that, “Spain is a sufficiently mature democratic society to confront this issue”.
Healthcare professionals would be able to object to taking part in ending a life if they wished to.
Spokesperson for the ruling Socialist party, María Luisa Carcedo, who is also a doctor, said that opinion polls showed 85 per cent of people in Spain are in favour of an assisted-death law. “Nobody can force other people’s lives to be extended,” she argued.
As people both for and against the new law gathered outside Congreso and in other cities of Spain to express their views, voices from the right condemned the legislation.
Lourdes Méndez of Vox said in the debate that the law was “merciless, inhumane and illegitimate”. She said it would allow the State to kill disabled people and feed “a death industry”.
The conservative PP have recently been calling for improved palliative care in Spain instead