Wed. Dec 11th, 2019

Euthanasia law: start over


The electoral advance prevented Spain from having its first euthanasia law by leaving in a drawer of Congress the proposal of the socialist group that, in its effort to regularize this practice, has presented a new initiative in Congress just two months after starting the legislature .

Decriminalizing euthanasia is a commitment of the acting government president, Pedro Sánchez, and was one of the 110 measures of the program with which the PSOE attended the elections of April 28, having not advanced the proposed law of the socialist group .

This failed initiative, whose processing expired when the Courts dissolved, began its parliamentary journey with many possibilities of moving forward because all the groups, except the PP, supported its consideration in June last year.

With its proposal, the PSOE intended to take "one more step" to palliative care and dignified death by providing assistance to die included in the portfolio of services of the National Health System that guaranteed its public funding.

After passing the first procedure and overcoming an amendment to the whole of the PP focused on palliative care and that rejected the right to decide on the death itself, the law continued its processing in Congress.

Although not without difficulties. The Socialists repeatedly accused PP and Citizens of "blocking it" by extending "successively" the deadline for amendments.

Pedro Sánchez himself, last April, blamed the "triquiñuelas" of both formations on the table of Congress the fact that there was no law and criticized that they did not think "of the people who need it."

Citizens had previously presented their proposal of a law of dignified death based on palliative care, whose approval was the condition that put the orange formation to support the socialist norm.

That proposal was also left in a drawer, in this case in the Senate, where it arrived after overcoming all the procedures in the Lower House.

The new legislature opens the door again for Spain to have its first euthanasia law as long as government is formed and there is no need to go to new elections.

And it is that not only the socialist group has presented a proposal of law. Also United We has hurried and registered his, with which he intends to regulate euthanasia and assisted suicide.

He had already submitted another, which was rejected in March 2017 with the votes against the PP, Forum Asturias and UPN and the abstention of the PSOE, Cs, PdeCAT and Nueva Canarias.

In addition, the proposed reform of the Criminal Code to decriminalize euthanasia and assisted suicide assistance sponsored by the Catalan Parliament is pending, after a previous one from the autonomous chamber expires with the dissolution of the Cortes.

Supporters of euthanasia regulation argue that it is a social demand. A November 2018 survey conducted by Ipsos revealed that 85% of Spaniards were in favor and, of them, 49% were "totally convinced" that it had to be done.

And the debate is periodically reopened following personal cases that move public opinion. The last time was on the eve of the April 28 elections for the death of María José Carrasco, a terminally ill woman, helped by her husband, Ángel Hernández, who was arrested but later released.

This happened months after the presentation in Congress of more than 280,000 signatures collected by two families in favor of a regulation.

One of those families was that of Maribel Tellaetxe, sick with Alzheimer's disease, who, while still in use of her mental faculties, signed a declaration of last will in which she expressed her desire to die when she could no longer recognize her children and her husband's .

He died just a month later at the San Juan de Dios hospital in Santurtzi without his relatives seeing his wish fulfilled. The campaigns continue and there are already more than 500,000 signatures collected together.

Teresa Diaz

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