Portugal: Will euthanasia be legalised this time round?
The decriminalisation of active euthanasia has had a broad majority in the Portuguese parliament for years. However, two bills adopted by the MPs ultimately failed after being vetoed by the country's president and the Constitutional Court. Now the parliament is deliberating on another draft. The national press has different views on the chances of success.
Wanted by the vast majority
It would be a scandal if the new draft law were also to fail due to opposition outside parliament, warns Isabel Moreira, a Socialist MP and co-initiator in Espresso:
“Twice, parliament has approved the decriminalisation of euthanasia with significantly more than an absolute majority of MPs. A law that, in summary, recognises the following: in strictly defined cases, when irreversible physical deterioration and the atrocious suffering it causes justify the acceptance of the will to bring forwards the death of those who experience this end of life that is difficult to describe. We cannot ignore the enormous legitimacy of a law that the people say they want to see approved.”
The initiators did not succeed in formulating the text in a legally sound manner, criticises Jornal de Notícias:
“Two large parliamentary majorities were not enough to enact the bill to decriminalise physician-assisted euthanasia. The Constitutional Court and the president of the Republic rejected it, meaning that the legislative process had to start all over again because the final text had to be improved and condensed to make it legally and constitutionally unassailable. But that did not happen. ... As soon as the parliamentary approval is given, the president will probably send the text back to the Constitutional Court.”
Hold a referendum
Pedro Rodrigues, a former member of parliament from the liberal-conservative People's Party (PSD), makes the case for a referendum in Público:
“On this type of issue, the votes of parliamentarians are influenced by their personal values. This leads to the question of why the conscience and ethical standards of members of parliament should take precedence over those of individual citizens. It is not a question of denying parliament the legitimacy to decide on laws in this matter. It is rather a matter of stating unequivocally that the individual conscience of MPs and their ethical standards cannot take precedence over those of all Portuguese citizens.”