Spain’s Congress is set to begin debate Tuesday on legislation to legalize euthanasia, which if passed as expected by a majority of congressional deputies will make Spain just the sixth country worldwide and fourth in Europe to offer publicly funded euthanasia to citizens and legal residents.
The legislation being brought to debate marks the third time in two years that the Socialist party of President Pedro Sánchez has introduced a euthanasia law in Spain’s Congress. On the previous two occasions, the bills stalled and expired when the government could not obtain congressional approval for its annual budget and the legislature was dissolved to make way for new elections.
Once approved, the legislation will provide the right to die to terminally ill individuals in Spain, allowing them to decide whether or not to end their lives with the assistance of medical professionals through Spain’s national public healthcare system.
Following debate, a majority of deputies in the 350-member Congress are expected to vote to approve the legislation, given a broad consensus of support for euthanasia among parties on the left and center of the Spanish political spectrum, including the centre-right Ciudadanos party, most-often at odds with the policies of the Socialists and their governing coalition partner, Unidas Podemos.
The conservative Partido Popular says it will vote against allowing debate on the euthanasia bill, instead proposing alternative legislation that would offer palliative hospice care to terminally ill patients through the national public healthcare system.
Worldwide, only five countries — the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Canada and Colombia — have any sort of euthanasia legislation in place that allows terminally ill individuals to decide to end their own lives with the assistance of medical professionals. Switzerland offers a similar but somewhat different option of assisted suicide for altruistic reasons.
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