Spain’s MPs vote in favour of euthanasia – controversial bill faces huge protests | World | News

Rees-Mogg claims euthanasia would make killing ‘too easy’

Today, the lower house of the Spanish Parliament approved a bill allowing the seriously ill to choose to end their life, despite opposition from the political right and religious groups. The bill was passed by 198 to 138 votes.

The bill allows for euthanasia and assisted suicide for people with “serious and incurable” or debilitating diseases which cause “unbearable suffering”.

Following the vote, the bill will now go to the senate who can either sign it into law or send it back to the congress with amendments.

If there are no amendments, it could be approved by spring next year.

If it passes, Spain would become the fourth country in the European Union to legalise the practice after Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Spanish MPs vote in favour of euthanasia bill

Spanish MPs vote in favour of euthanasia bill (Image: Getty)

Protesters rally against euthanasia bill in Spain

Protesters rally against euthanasia bill in Spain (Image: Getty)

The bill was tabled by the leftist coalition government and sparked fierce debate inside and outside of parliament.

Santiago Abascal, leader of the far-right party Vox, condemned the bill and said in a video on social media: “The euthanasia law is a defeat for civilisation and a victory for the culture of death, for those who believe that some lives are more worthy than others.”

The party said children of the elderly and vulnerable could use the law to kill their relatives, despite patients having to assert their wish to die on several occasions.

Only those over 18, a legal resident in Spain, and conscious at the time of the request can be eligible under the new bill.

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Hundreds protest against euthanasia bill

Hundreds protest against euthanasia bill (Image: Getty)

Dozens of protesters gathered to fight against the bill while brandishing skull and crossbones flags and a banner reading “Government of death”.

One of the protesters said the law “goes against all principles”.

Other countries, such as Portugal and New Zealand, have debated legalising the practice in the past.

Under the Roman Catholic Church, euthanasia is considered to be homicide.

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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (Image: Express)

In September, the Vatican doubled down on its position while issuing a document describing politicians who support such laws as accomplices to murder.

Currently those who assist someone in ending their life in Spain could face up to 10 years in jail.

But almost 90 percent of Spaniards are now in favour of decriminalisation, according to a 2019 poll.

Canada and Colombia also perform euthanasia while Switzerland, Germany, Japan and some US states and one in Australia have decriminalised assisted suicide.

Hundreds protest against Spanish euthanasia bill

Hundreds protest against Spanish euthanasia bill (Image: Getty)

Euthanasia refers to the active steps taken to end someone’s life to stop their suffering and it is undertaken by someone other than the individual, such as a doctor.

Assisted suicide refers to helping someone take their own life at their request and is undertaken by the person themselves.  

In 2019, Richard Huxtable, professor of medical ethics and law at the University of Bristol, said: “One of the dilemmas we have in these ongoing debates is how people use the various phrases.”

In the UK, both euthanasia and assisted suicide are still illegal. 

Protesters rally against Spain's euthanasia bill

Protesters rally against Spain’s euthanasia bill (Image: Getty)

Euthanasia can result in a murder charge while assisted suicide is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

In August, Tory MP Andrew Mitchell said people in the UK could be given the right to an assisted death within the current parliament.

He told Sky News at the time: “I was, as a student and as a young MP, adamantly opposed to assisted dying and over the years my view has changed completely.

“We need to make clear that we are not looking here for a massive change.

“We are looking for very, very tight reform.

“I think that given the very limited nature of these proposals; that it would be for someone who is within six months of the end of their life, with very strong safeguards, the decision being made by a High Court judge, by two doctors – I think those limited proposals may command the support of parliament in the next four years.”

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