LISBON ( Associated Press) — Portugal’s parliament voted Friday for the third time in nearly two years to allow euthanasia, although as with previous efforts, the Constitutional Court or the president could block the bill from becoming law.
Lawmakers have approved a bill allowing euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, the speaker of parliament said, although exact voting figures were not immediately available.
Center-left parties in the predominantly Catholic country pushed for the initiative, as they did with laws decriminalizing abortion in 2007 and same-sex marriage in 2010.
The bill needs the assent of the head of the state to become law. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa may choose to block the law again or send it once again to the Constitutional Court for approval. This could set the initiative back several months.
Vague wording and unconstitutional aspects have plagued two previous attempts at legislation.
Euthanasia occurs when a doctor administers lethal drugs directly to a patient. Physician-assisted suicide occurs when the patient self-administers a lethal substance under medical supervision.
New rules in the latest version of the bill include mandatory involvement of a psychologist in the process from start to finish and a minimum wait of two months between application and death.
The bill establishes that the patient’s request must be “repeated, serious, independent and informed, in the event of very acute suffering, with extremely serious definite injury or severe and terminal illness.” A patient requesting death must express his wish freely at least six times.
The application can be approved or rejected and the entire process is monitored by a national committee composed of two lawyers, a doctor, a nurse and a bioethicist.