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Spanish Parliament considers euthanasia debate

El Pais (Oriol Guell, Anabel Diez and Susane Urra) reports: A PSOE bill that was introduced in 2018 spring, has been brought back for debate in the Spanish Congress  by the Popular Party (PP). This does not imply that there is agreement, new PP President Pablo Casado is opposing the PSOE bill and comes with an alternative proposal. The alternative proposal  falls more in line with a separate initiative by the liberal party Ciudadanos on dignified death and palliative care. Several Spanish regions, including Madrid, already have laws regulating palliative care in the last stages of life, but none of them contemplate euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.


PSOE, Podemos, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) and the Democratic Party of Catalonia (PdeCAT), representing 178 seats  say that euthanasia and palliative care are complementary, and that even when the latter is fully developed and made available to everyone, there will still be some people who need a law allowing them to end their lives. The parties in favour of regulating euthanasia disagree on the practicalities of the new law. The biggest stumbling block is the proposed creation of control committees charged with authorizing euthanasia when two doctors have agreed that a specific case meets the legal criteria. The PSOE and the PNV feel that these committees would mean “greater security for doctors and patients.” But Podemos and ERC feel that such oversight is unnecessary and restrictive, and point to countries like Belgium and the Netherlands, which lack them.


Opinion surveys consistently show that Spaniards are in favour of regulating euthanasia and assisted suicide. “There is a clear support, and it’s been consistent through time for over a decade,” says Rafael Serrano-del-Rosal, director of the Institute of Advanced Social Studies-CSIC. In a study published this year by the Spanish Magazine for Sociology Studies, Serrano-del-Rosal says that 58% of Spaniards answered “yes” to the question of whether they support regulating euthanasia, compared with 10% who said they “opposed it with certainty.” Other respondents chose in-between options, with 15% saying “I think so, but I am not completely sure.” As for assisted suicide, 39% were in favour, 19% against and 14% were mostly favourable but had doubts.