Spain takes first step towards potentially legalising assisted suicide

Spain considers legalising assisted suicide after MPs vote to examine euthanasia bill

  • Spain is considering legalising euthanasia – assisted suicide 
  • Spanish lawmakers voted in favour of examining a bill on legalisation today 
  • Comes as British scientist travelled from Australia to Switzerland to die at 104

Spain is considering a legalisation of assisted suicide – euthanasia – after a vote in it’s parliament’s lower house. 

Lawmakers voted in favour of examining a bill on legalising euthanasia, a first in the country even if there will likely be major opposition before any potential approval. 

Spanish MPs voted 173 against 135 – and 32 abstentions – to examine the bill, which was originally drafted by Catalonia’s regional assembly.

 Under consideration: Spanish lawmakers voted in favour of examining a bill on legalising assisted suicide (stock image)

This is the first time that a bill aimed at legalising euthanasia makes it past this first hurdle after previous attempts failed, a parliament spokeswoman told AFP.

It comes on the same day as a world-renowned British-Australian scientist died in a euthanasia clinic in Switzerland.

Dr David Goodall, 104, died at 11.30am today after flicking a switch allowing a lethal dose of a sleeping drug to flow into his body.

Dr Goodall had said he had decided to end his life after gradually losing quality of life, particularly after his retirement as the world’s oldest working scientist at 102.

The Spanish bill seeks to modify part of article 143 of Spain’s penal code, which currently bans anyone from causing or cooperating with the death of another person suffering from ‘a serious, terminal illness or one that causes serious, permanent ailments that are difficult to endure.’

His will: British scientist Dr David Goodall, 104, died at Swiss suicide clinic at 11.30am on Thursday morning, medical staff at the facility in Liestal, near Basel, confirmed

The bill would make it legal for a person to cause or help cause the ‘reliable, peaceful, painless death’ of another suffering from those problems if they ‘specifically, freely and unequivocally’ ask for it.

Currently in Spain, people with incurable diseases only have the option to refuse treatment.

But according to an opinion poll conducted by research firm Metroscopia in March 2017, 84 per cent of Spaniards are in favour of allowing people with terminal illnesses to be helped to die ‘painlessly.’

Lawmakers from Spain’s conservative ruling Popular Party and another from the regional party of Navarra voted against accepting the bill on Thursday.

Centre-right party Ciudadanos, meanwhile, abstained, while all the other groupings in parliament – most of them left-wing – voted in favour.

Now that it has passed the first hurdle, the bill will go through various stages in parliament – with different groups likely to present their amendments – before it gets to the final voting stage in the lower house.

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