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Spain’s parliament legalised euthanasia

At March 18, Spain’s parliament has legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide for people with serious and incurable or debilitating diseases who want to end their life. The lower house of parliament’s vote in a final reading was 202 in favour, 141 against and two abstentions. Spain is now, after Belgium, the Netherlands and Benelux, the fourth country in the European Union to take this step. Worldwide it is the fifth country (after the Benelux and Canada) that has a law on euthanasia. Until now, helping someone end their life in Spain carried a jail term of up to 10 years.

The new law

The law consists of five chapters, seven additional provisions, a transitional provision, a repeal provision and four final provisions.

The requirements for individuals to apply for aid to die are laid down in chapter II. Any person of legal age and in full capacity to act and decide may apply for and receive such assistance, provided that he does so autonomously, consciously and informedly, and who is in cases of serious, chronic and impossible suffering or serious and incurable illness causing intolerable physical or mental suffering. In this chapter is also articulated the possibility of requesting this assistance through the document of previous or equivalent instructions, legally recognized, that already exists in our legal order.

Chapter III is intended to regulate the procedure to be followed for the provision of aid to die and the guarantees to be observed in the application of that benefit. In this area it is worth noting the creation of Guarantee and Evaluation Commissions that must verify in advance and subsequently monitor compliance with the Law and the procedures it establishes. Chapter IV lays down the elements for ensuring that all citizens have equal access to the provision of aid to die, including it in the common portfolio of services of the National Health System and thus ensuring their public funding, but also guaranteeing their provision in private centres or even at home. It should be noted that such a benefit is guaranteed without prejudice to the possibility of conscientious objection by health workers. Finally, Chapter V regulates the Guarantee and Evaluation Commissions to be created in all Autonomous Communities and in the Cities of Ceuta and Melilla for the purposes of this Law.

The additional provisions, for their part, are aimed at ensuring that those applying for aid to die under this Act shall be deemed to die by natural death, to ensure resources and means of support for persons with disabilities, to establish mechanisms to make this Law the maximum dissemination among health professionals and citizenship and the offer of specific continuing training on aid to die, as well as a sanctioning regime. In its final provisions, it is therefore appropriate under the new legal order introduced by this Law, to amend Organic Law 10/1995, of 23 November, of the Penal Code, with the purpose of decriminalizing all those euthanic conduct in the cases and conditions established by this Law.

Below you find the law in both Spain and English:

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