LEFT-WING independent party Podemos plans to open a debate on the 'right to die with dignity' in Parliament for the first time ever.
The party is already lobbying the regional government of Madrid to convince the national government of the need to reform article 143.4 of the Penal Code, decriminalising assisted suicide.
“Those who, through necessary actions or active cooperation, assist the dignified and painless death of a person who expressly, freely and unequivocably requests it due to suffering from a serious illness or permanent and intolerable suffering, should be exempt from criminal charges,” is the text Podemos wants to include in the Penal Code.
“The right to a dignified life also includes the right to a dignified death,” Podemos says.
“Where the illness has no proven medical solution or is seriously incapacitating, and death is inevitable or suffering is extreme, public health services should guarantee that the last moments of life, and death itself, are dignified and without pain or suffering, using all scientific resources including the patient being kept in company and terminal sedation,” says spokesman for the party at regional level, José Manuel López.
He says patients should be allowed to write a living will, have the necessary means provided to enable them to do so even in the peak of health, and that this should automatically be incorporated in the patient's medical records.
And the party wants to see its regional government – and eventually all regional governments in Spain – scheduling ongoing training on palliative care and pain-free death, and closely monitoring health services to ensure they comply and that patients or their next of kin are satisfied, including addressing the issues of palliative care and the 'right to die with dignity' for children and teenagers.
This terminal patient care system should 'guarantee proper scientific, technical and humane care which respects everyone involved and their wishes, and include increasing the number of home care support teams – which, according to Podemos, are 'sorely lacking' in Madrid.
According to José Manuel López, focus on pain relief and on a caring and compassionate attitude are scarce in Madrid and 'death is horrible' for the region's terminal patients.
“Legislation does not protect people's dignity, so we need to substitute the current patriarchal approach for one based upon talking, discussion, and respect for patients' preferences,” he concludes.