Spain has become the fourth country in Europe and the sixth country in the world to legalise euthanasia after passing a law yesterday.
Spain’s lower house of parliament voted in favour of the law, which allows people to end their lives if they “suffer a serious or incurable disease or a serious, chronic and incapacitating condition,” which causes them “intolerable suffering”.
The law caters for both euthanasia, the direct administration of a substance by a medical professional, and medically assisted suicide, whereby a medical professional prescribes a substance to the patient to cause their own death.
Prior to this law, which is set to take effect in June, helping somebody to die in Spain carried a maximum imprisonment sentence of up to ten years.
Hoy somos un país más humano, más justo y más libre. La ley de eutanasia, ampliamente demandada por la sociedad, se convierte por fin en una realidad. Gracias a todas las personas que han peleado incansablemente para que el derecho a morir dignamente fuera reconocido en España. pic.twitter.com/Ge4CZWuvIe
— Pedro Sánchez (@sanchezcastejon) March 18, 2021
“Today we’ve become a more humane, fair and freer country,” Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez tweeted. “The euthanasia law, which was widely demanded by society, has finally become a reality. Thank you to everyone who has tirelessly fought for Spain to recognise the right to die with dignity.”
Spain joins Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Canada and Colombia as the only other countries in the world where euthanasia is currently legal.
New Zealand is set to join them later this year, after a referendum to legalise the practice passed last October.
Debate on euthanasia has been bubbling up in Malta too, with politicians like PL deputy leader Daniel Micallef, ministers Aaron Farrugia, Miriam Dalli and Byron Camilleri, and MEP Cyrus Engerer coming out in favour.
Prime Minister Robert Abela hasn’t come out in favour or against, simply saying the time has come for a national debate, while Opposition leader Bernard Grech has said he’s against it because he believes that life should be protected “from conception to beyond the grave”.