Spain has signed a bill that legalizes euthanasia for terminally ill people experiencing “unbearable suffering” in a landmark ruling. Parliament gave final approval for the law on March 18, allowing those with “serious and incurable” to end their lives without legal repercussions from June 2021. Spain is the fourth European country to sign such a law.
- Both euthanasia and assisted suicide will be allowed. Under the legislation, terminally ill people will be allowed to seek help ending their lives via a medical professional to prevent further suffering or seek aids by which they can end their own lives comfortably in their own homes.
- There are strict conditions that will need to be met. A person will not just be able to use euthanasia or assisted suicide immediately and at all. Instead, the candidate will need to be a Spanish national or legal resident who is “fully aware and conscious” when they make their request. In addition, they will need to make the request twice, each 15 days apart, and the final request will have to be evaluated and approved by a second medic and an independent evaluation body. It’s likely that many requests that do not meet the requirements will be refused.
- Legalizing euthanasia in Spain is said to be a humanitarian issue. This according to Health Minister Salvador Illa, who said upon the bill’s first approval in December 2020: “It is an important day for all citizens because we are moving towards a more humane and just society. But above all, it is an important day for those people who are in a situation of serious suffering, and it is also important for their families and people close to them.”
- Roughly 90% of Spanish citizens are in support of the move. A 2019 poll found that 90% of people living in Spain felt that euthanasia should be decriminalized, which is not an insignificant amount. However, the Catholic Church has spoken out against the ruling, with the Episcopal Conference claiming that the practice has “always a form of murder since it involves one man causing the death of another.”