All communities must offer, at least, the same quality palliative care package, according to the law that has passed this Thursday the Congress (They have voted for PP, PSOE, Ciudadanos, Podemos and part of the Mixed Group). The initiative – "the first Citizens health law", as the party spokesman, Francisco Igea has called it – has yet to go to the Senate and, if amendments are included, return to Congress, but the bulk of its content will be maintained because no party – including nationalists who voted not for competency issues – argues that end-of-life care should be improved.
The law has been marked since its inception by its concurrence with another rule, the one presented by the PSOE that intends to decriminalize euthanasia. In fact, the Congress had reached a pact between both parties: the Socialists would support the Citizens' Law – as they have finally done – and, in turn, those of Rivera would allow the initiative on euthanasia to be processed. For the time being, as the Socialist spokesman, Jesús Fernández Díaz, has reproached them, they have only half fulfilled: they voted in favor of euthanasia being taken into consideration, but they do not unblock it.
Already the first deputy to intervene, Carlos Salvador Armendariz (UPN), has linked both initiatives, linking them to what "Pope Francis calls the culture of discarding" and affirming that the law to debate "brings very little" and instead is " a flying goal on the road to the right to kill "that supposes euthanasia. Armendariz has been, in fact, the only critical speaker with the main lines of the law. At the other extreme, Sergi Miquel, from the PDeCAT, affirmed that he defended both euthanasia and quality palliative care, and that his desire was to "make them compatible". Also Marta Sorlí, of the United Left of the Valencian Country, has indicated that the law was "a step towards the decriminalization of euthanasia".
Igea, surrounded by the applause of his group after almost every sentence, has shelled the general principles of the initiative: to know the state of health – "No one can be deceived by his doctor with false promises and expectations" – for, by being informed in advance , prepare the living will. "Suffering does not make us better," he said, so the Administration will be obligated to "provide quality palliative care." It will also be entitled to "induce the soil to end our suffering," said Igea describing what is known as terminal sedation, and has stressed that with its law this will be "the same for all Spaniards."
The spokesman for Citizens has also said that "it is not worth keeping alive a body that goes out", so no one will be forced to undergo "a nasogastric tube or forced feeding," in reference to the ability to forgo treatments. To defend another aspect of the law, the prevalence of the will of the patient, has said: "Professionals will always ensure respect for our will, even if they do not like our decisions." And it has added among the aspects of the law the "right to say goodbye in privacy" and not "in a room with three beds".
Precisely the excessive detail of the approved norm is what has caused the rejection of the PNV, whose spokesman, Joseba Agirretxea, has accused her of invading competitions and defending issues that "are already recognized in another law", in reference to the Basque norm of death worthy of 2016. Agirretxea has not missed the reference to euthanasia. "This law is neither a substitute for euthanasia nor responds to the same needs," he said. "It's something else, that will come at the time and we are willing to consider it," he added, as a preview of a favorable position to regulate assisted death at the end of life.
Agirretxea has criticized that the proposal is "exhaustive". "It goes beyond establishing the subsequent development", and has set as an example of a competition that should be in the hands of the autonomies the obligation to have individual rooms. Miquel (PDeCAT) has also rejected the "considerable competence invasion".
Joan Olóriz Serra (ERC) has supported this idea: "This proposal is invasive and regulation," he said, and has asked that the paper on euthanasia be convened in 2019. Amparo Botejara, de Podemos, has specified even more: "Let's hope to begin the presentation of euthanasia in February of next year, "he said. And, although he defended the law, he has doubted its effectiveness. "There are already 10 communities that have legislated" attention at the end of life, "and those that have more funding, have it more established". That is why he has questioned the effectiveness of the norm. "We doubt that this law will serve to die better because there is no funding."
Igea wanted to de-link the initiative of euthanasia. In fact, he began by saying that he defended his proposal "between the delirium of euthanasia and the delirium of the right of autonomy." And he recalled the first motive of this regulation: every year 400,000 people die in Spain, of which half do so with pain, and 50,000 do not receive palliative care despite needing them.
There is only one aspect that the spokesperson for Citizens does not like about how the law has been: "A basic law can not be backed by a regional sanctioning regime ". The change in his project, which established sanctions common to the entire state, was approved by the Health Commission with the votes against his party and the PP. Sara Cortés, spokesperson of the popular, has remembered and has expressed its support to change it (predictably they will do it in the Senate, but Congress will leave later as it is now). "A sanctioning regime would give security to all," he said.
Cortés also announced that they support UPN's initiative so that, within the care at the end of life, the right "to spiritual and religious assistance" is included.
Apart from the jurisdictional invasions, the biggest criticisms of the law of dignified death that Congress has approved today are due to doubts about whether a specific norm was needed. Salvador Armendariz (UPN) has opened fire by stating that the project was "a copy" of the Navarre law of 2011. This means that, according to him, it does not include anything that could not be done before. Joseba Agirretxea, of the PNV, has deepened in that line, and has described the initiative as "unnecessary".
The antecedents of this law are in the General Health Law (1996) and in the Patient Autonomy Law (2002), as several speakers have recalled, which already established the right to receive palliative care, the living will and the possibility of reject treatments such as respirators or assisted feeding.
To these norms, Olóriz Serra (ERC) has added the Statute of Catalan Autonomy, which also refers to the subject in its article 20, reason why it has considered the initiative "redundant".
In fact, the basic content of the proposal is in line with the laws of the 10 communities that have already regulated dignified death (Andalusia, Basque Country, Navarre, Catalonia, Madrid, Galicia, Asturias, Valencia, Aragon and Canary Islands), as noted by Amparo Botejara (Podemos).
Francisco Igea, of Citizens, the promoter of the initiative, has defended that with the law the same rights are recognized for all Spaniards, including communities that do not have a regional norm.