Portugal to approve assisted suicide legislation

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Portugal to approve assisted suicide legislation

Portugal’s parliament is expected to approve legislation on Friday that will allow medically assisted suicide in certain limited circumstances.

It will be permitted for adults only if the wish is “current and reiterated, serious, free and informed”.

The person must be “in a situation of great intensity suffering, with definitive injury of extreme gravity or serious and incurable disease”.

The measure has parallels in only a handful of countries worldwide.

The final version was approved in committee on Wednesday, following a fraught week that saw proceedings delayed after the Socialist politician steering the bill provided changes to members just hours before they were due to vote.

There was then a last-ditch call by the main opposition for a referendum on the issue.

Opinion polls point to roughly half of voters in this overwhelmingly Catholic country being in favour of allowing medically assisted suicide, which the Church strongly opposes.

But the call by the centre-right Social Democratic Party (PSD) to suspend the legislative process and hold a referendum was rejected, paving the way for Friday’s final reading.

Proposals to allow medically assisted suicide were first approved in 2020, prompting international headlines about how Portugal was set to become only Europe’s fourth country to allow euthanasia, as it is commonly known.

However, Portugal’s conservative President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, queried the legality of parts of the legislation, sending it to the Constitutional Court. It upheld some of his concerns regarding imprecise language, but not others.