Spain is one step closer to legalising euthanasia for terminally ill patients following the ratification of a bill decriminalising the practice in the lower house of parliament.
The country will become the fourth and largest country in the European Union to legalise euthanasia, along with Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
The law will allow for the decriminalising of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide and was passed in the lower house of parliament with 198 votes in favour, 138 votes against, and two who abstained.
The bill will now go to the Senate which can suggest amendments. However, it is expected to pass there too.
If it passes parliamentary hurdles, it could come into force as early as next spring.
Only Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland have implemented legislation covering assisted dying. In the United States, California, Colorado and Oregon allow patients to obtain lethal prescriptions if terminally ill.
In October, New Zealand also voted to legalise euthanasia in what was deemed a victory “for compassion and kindness.”
However, in Malta, active euthanasia and assisted suicide are both illegal.
Assisted suicide is considered a crime and is punishable by up to 12 years in prison. On the other hand, the withdrawal of treatment – a form of passive euthanasia – and palliative sedation are legal and, as of 2016, were carried out by 15% and 7.5% of doctors in Malta respectively.
The topic of euthanasia is highly contentious with Malta lightyears away from legalising the practice. However, a number of key figures in Malta’s political sphere have come out in favour of the practice including Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri and newcomer Energy and Enterprise Minister Miriam Dalli.
Newly-elected MEP Cyrus Engerer also suggested holding a referendum on legalising euthanasia, adding that he “really likes” the way New Zealand handled the issue.
Should euthanasia be legalised? Let us know below