PSOE wants euthanasia covered by national healthcare

Protesters outside Spanish Congress in May demand decriminalization of euthanasia. Photo: José Luis Roca / El Periódico

The new government of President Pedro Sánchez will take the debate over euthanasia in Spain one step further on Tuesday, with Sánchez’s Socialist party (PSOE) introducing legislation in Congress that would formally codify the decriminalization of euthanasia and make the right to die with dignity publicly available under Spain’s national health service.

Opposition deputies in Congress banded together last month to approve legislation decriminalizing euthanasia, casting  173 votes in favor of the measure versus 135 votes against from then-governing conservative Partido Popular (PP) deputies and 32 abstentions from the centre-right Ciudadanos party.

Additional legislation to be introduced Tuesday by the Socialists will take the matter one step nearer to reality, with a proposal to regulate the entire process of euthanasia and include it as a service covered free-of-charge under the national healthcare system.

Results of a recent public opinion survey conducted by the Spanish government’s Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (Centre for Sociological Research, or CIS) showed that fully 70 percent of Spaniards say they are in favor of regulating euthanasia and making the right to die with dignity available in Spain.

According to the Socialists’ proposal, the right to euthanasia would be given to individuals requiring palliative care for a serious and incurable disease, or to those who have severe chronic disability and decide because of unbearable suffering that they no longer want to live. If passed by Congress, the legislation would provide for full regulation of the process and make euthanasia available to Spanish citizens or legal residents who qualify under the established criteria.

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