Euthanasia law passed in Portugal despite strong religious opposition and a presidential veto

BACK in March of this year, Portugal’s Catholic bishops got a bit ahead of themselves when they congratulated the country’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, above, for vetoing a proposed euthanasia bill. De Sousa is a “devout churchgoer.”

Their joy was short-lived. Despite the veto, the lawmakers yesterday (Friday) passed a law that will enable people in great suffering and with incurable diseases to legally choose to end their lives.

The issue, reports The Guardian, created divisions in the deeply Catholic country and was strongly opposed by de Sousa.

Under its provisions, people aged over 18 will be allowed to request assistance in dying if they are terminally ill and in intolerable suffering. It will only cover those suffering “lasting” and “unbearable” pain, unless they are deemed not to be mentally fit to make such a decision.

The law will be applicable only to nationals and legal residents and will not extend to foreigners coming into the country to seek assisted dying.

The euthanasia bill was approved by parliament four times in the last three years, but was sent back every time for a constitutional review due to opposition from de Sousa.

The definitive version of the law was adopted on Friday with support from the governing socialists, who hold an absolute majority in the chamber.

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Said the socialist MP Isabel Moreira, above, “a fervent advocate” of legalising euthanasia:

We are confirming a law that has already been approved several times by a huge majority.

The President now has a week to promulgate the new law. It could come into force by the autumn, Portuguese media said.

De Sousa himself said approval of the law “wasn’t a great drama” and did not give rise to “constitutional problems”.

Spokesman for the Portugal’s Catholic bishops, Fr. Manuel Barbosa, said:

Any legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide is always contrary to the affirmation of the dignity of the human person and to the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic,

Move follows neighbouring Spain’s legalisation of euthanasia

In March, 2021, Spain legalised euthanasia, again in the face of strong religious opposition. It became the fourth country in Europe to do so.

A year earlier, Catholic news outlet Crux reported that Spanish and Portuguese church leaders were mouthing off about moves in both countries to introduce euthanasia.

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Auxiliary Bishop Luis Arguello of Valladolid, above, Secretary General of the Spanish bishops’ conference, told a forum on February 11:

In welcoming human life in all circumstances, the Church does not defend therapeutic cruelty in keeping life going mechanically at all costs. But solutions cannot lie in making the suffering person disappear.

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Retired Archbishop Braulio Rodriguez Plaza, above, of Toledo, Spain, also argued that legalising euthanasia would be a “serious and harmful sin” while rejecting claims it signified a “new human right” that could be decided by parliamentary majorities.

Neither euthanasia nor assisted suicide will make society better or freer, or be an expression of true progress.

Plaza’s declaration showed how far out of step the RCC was with regard to public opinion.

Eighty-seven percent of Spaniards backed euthanasia rights for incurable patients in an April 2019 survey by the Metroscopia polling agency. Support was highest among young people.

Spanish media said at the time that proposed legislation was modeled on laws in Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, which allow euthanasia alongside Canada, Colombia, Switzerland and parts of Australia and the United States.

Catholic Church leaders also also criticised other proposed measure in Spain’s coalition government’s programme, which included “affective-sexual education”, widened abortion rights, a guarantee of “state secularity” and recovering assets “improperly registered to the Church.”

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2 responses to “Euthanasia law passed in Portugal despite strong religious opposition and a presidential veto”

  1. Jersey has voted in assisted dying, Guernsey (my birthplace) narrowly voted against I was disappointed since I have residential status.

    What chance of assisted dying law being passed in the UK with 96% of Tory MPs being ‘devout’ christian hypocrites and 26 bishopricks in the lords!!


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