Home World Promulgation in Portugal of the law decriminalizing euthanasia

Promulgation in Portugal of the law decriminalizing euthanasia

Portugal has a new text on the end of life. Conservative President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa signed into law on Tuesday the law decriminalizing euthanasia passed by Parliament last week, after a laborious legislative process.

“The President of the Republic promulgated the decree (…) as he was obliged to do” by the constitution, indicated the presidency in a press release released in the evening. The final version of the law governing “medically assisted death” was adopted last Friday with 129 votes in favor out of a total of 230 deputies, including those elected by the ruling Socialist Party.

A text reformulated several times

“The Constitution obliges the President to promulgate a law which he has vetoed and which has been confirmed by the Assembly of the Republic. I will promulgate it, of course, it is my constitutional duty”, indicated Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa after the vote.

A parliamentary majority had already voted four times in favor of the decriminalization of assisted death over the past three years. But the text then came up against the reservations of the Constitutional Court and the Head of State, a practicing Catholic. In order to overcome the last veto of the president, the socialists had decided to vote the same text a second time.

The text of the law has been reformulated several times in order to take into account the remarks of the president, who vetoed it twice, and after having been challenged, also twice, by the Constitutional Court which had notably pointed out certain “inaccuracies” . The final version of the law provides that euthanasia will only be authorized in cases where “medically assisted suicide is impossible due to the patient’s physical incapacity”.

After the publication of the implementing decrees, the law could come into force next fall, according to estimates quoted by the local press. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are now authorized in a handful of European countries, such as those of Benelux, the first to have authorized them, and neighboring Spain.

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