The text on the decriminalisation of medically assisted death is to be considered today in a final global vote in parliament, an issue that has crossed three legislatures and has already had two presidential vetoes.
The initiative that goes to plenary in the Assembly of the Republic is based on bills of the PS, Liberal Initiative, BE and PAN, and was approved in the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, Rights, Freedoms and Guarantees this Wednesday, after three postponements.
The replacement text was 'finalised' in mid-October and in the version that goes to the votes today it is established that the "non-punishable medically assisted death" occurs "by decision of the person, of age, whose will is current and reiterated, serious, free and clarified, in a situation of suffering of great intensity, with definitive injury of extreme gravity or serious and incurable illness, when practiced or helped by health professionals”.
This time, compared to the last decree, the text drops the "fatal disease" requirement.
The replacement text also establishes a minimum period of two months from the start of the procedure for its implementation, with the provision of psychological support also being mandatory.
Chega and PCP are against the matter, and Iniciativa Liberal, BE, PAN and Livre are in favour. The PSD has already announced that it will give freedom to vote to its deputies, the first time that the matter will be voted under the presidency of Luís Montenegro's party and Joaquim Miranda Sarmento's parliamentary group.
This week, in parallel, the PSD presented a draft resolution for a referendum on the decriminalisation of euthanasia, but the initiative was rejected by the President of the Assembly of the Republic, Augusto Santos Silva, because “there are no changes in circumstances” in relation to the previous initiative already presented on the same matter, by Chega, which failed in June.
The Social Democrats have already filed an appeal against the decision.
In the previous legislature, the decriminalisation of medically assisted death under certain conditions, amending the Penal Code, gathered a large majority in parliament, but was the target of two vetoes by the President of the Republic: the first time after the Constitutional Court ruled, following a inspection request by Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. A second time, the decree was again rejected by the President after a political veto.
The head of state vetoed this decree on November 26th, stressing that the new text used different expressions in defining the type of diseases required and argued that the legislator had to choose between "only serious disease", "serious and incurable disease". and the "incurable and fatal disease".
In the note justifying the veto, Marcelo wrote that in case the Assembly of the Republic wants to "choose to renounce the requirement that the disease be fatal, and therefore expand the permission of medically assisted death", it will opt for a "more radical view". or drastic” and questioned whether this corresponds to “the dominant feeling in Portuguese society”.
This Wednesday, Marcelo only guaranteed that he make a swift decision on the law when he receives the document in Belém, pointing to Christmas as the likely date.
From the beginning of the process, the head of state defended that there should be a wide and long debate in Portuguese society, but he always refused to reveal his personal position and anticipate a decision before he received a diploma.
The Assembly of the Republic website created a page exclusively dedicated to the subject, with the legislative history on euthanasia and even a dossier on comparative law available for consultation.