OVER 30 years since Spain first allowed women to join its Armed Forces, a female soldier has been promoted to General for the first time in the country's history. Patricia Ortega, 56, from Madrid, was due to have...
Sánchez opens door to euthanasia law
By thinkSPAIN Team Wed, Jun 27, 2018
PEDRO Sánchez's government has opened the door to the country's first law on euthanasia, which would allow 'dying with dignity' to become an integral part of the State healthcare system.
All parties except the right-wing PP, in government until early June, voted for the debate to go ahead on this highly-delicate issue.
Research shows that 84% of residents in Spain agree euthanasia should be possible where there is no other alternative, although dissenters fear it could open a can of worms whereby sick, elderly or disabled people who are concerned about being a burden feel 'pressured' or 'morally obliged' to opt to end their lives.
Spokeswoman for the reigning socialist party, Adriana Lastra, says the legislation would regulate assisted dying for patients with serious and incurable illness or severe and chronic disability which leads to 'extreme suffering', as an optional alternative to 'prolonging a life when this merely means prolonging intolerable agony'.
The ethical, medical and legal issues involved will be discussed over time, and any new legislation will allow a conscientious objection by medical professionals, whilst retaining the right to die as part of the country's 'free and universal' public health service.
“We're presenting this law out of respect for the dignity, freedom and free will of persons whose only outlook is one of extreme suffering and who simply want to end their ordeal – exceptional cases with an irreversible prognosis,” Sra Lastra explained.
“The panorama of deterioration without hope means those affected want to be able to decide for themselves when and how they die; it's their last right and last freedom, to die with dignity.”
The draft law text says people with the right to opt for euthanasia would be those in palliative care or those who 'decide not to live any longer' because of severe chronic disability that causes them 'intolerable agony and suffering'.
A month ago, the Lower Chamber agreed to debate a proposed regional law presented by the government of Catalunya which would decriminalise euthanasia, or prevent those helping with an assisted suicide from going to jail for murder.
As well as going beyond decriminalisation, the national law on euthanasia would permit doctors to perform it, and would include radical improvements in palliative care.
But the PP is strongly against allowing assisted dying.
“Talking about euthanasia is to talk about professional failure in the face of illness and death,” said MP for the PP, Pilar Cortés.
“It means recognising political, medical, professional and social defeat for the sick, and it's a complete failure that we're unable to offer any other solution besides death.”
Even though the law only covers euthanasia in 'extreme cases', Sra Cortés says there would be a 'tremendous risk' that such cases would become 'generalised'.
“Euthanasia could start gaining ground and becoming a replacement for palliative care,” she said.
Photograph: Poster for the film Mar Adentro ('The Sea Inside') by award-winning The Others director Alejandro Amenábar based upon the true story of Ramón Sampedro, played by Javier Bardem, who fought to end his life after becoming paralysed from the neck down
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