The socialist María Luisa Carcedo (Santa Bárbara, Asturias, 67 years old) has achieved as a deputy what she did not have time to achieve in the year and a half that she was Minister of Health: to carry out a euthanasia law that only needs the procedure of his passage through the Senate. “A right has been approved that makes us freer,” he repeated during the interview, the same argument he used in the parliamentary debate with the representatives of the right, UPN, PP and Vox, who called the law eugenic, illegitimate, murderous and other qualifiers. In the end, the law was approved by 198 votes in favor, 138 against and 2 abstentions.
Question. Was there anything during the debate that particularly bothered you?
Reply. The first thing I have to say is that during the process there has been a very positive attitude from most of the groups, even when we did not accept the amendments. But the UPN representative [Carlos García Adanero] He has said one thing that I cannot pass: that when someone has a bad time, instead of helping him and giving him the palliative care he needs, we push him into the abyss. And that I cannot tolerate. I am a doctor and I have spent 42 years working for health, to help, for the welfare of people, and you cannot tell me that what we want is to get them out of the way.
P. And have you been surprised by the support of more center-right groups such as the PNV or Ciudadanos?
R. Not really. Everyone has understood that it is about the defense of a right, of individual freedom.
Congress passes the first euthanasia law with a comfortable majority
P. The right wing has become a champion of palliatives.
R. Yes, I have already wanted to tell the PP spokesman [José Ignacio Echániz], and I have reminded him when Luis Montes was accused of practicing euthanasia at the Severo Ochoa Hospital in Leganés [en 2005], when what he was doing was terminal sedation. They didn’t like them then, and now they claim them.
P. Do you have the feeling that the law has reached society?
R. I think the media have given it a lot of visibility.
P. There are those who compare what this law means with what that of equal marriage implied in terms of progress in rights.
R. With the difference that this is a much more general law, because it is for the entire population, although later it is used by very small groups. It is to advance a lot in civil rights and break the molds of the type of society in which we live together. That is why the resistance offered by the right wing. As I told you in the session, they always do the same when faced with advances: first it makes them wobble a bit, but then they calm down and even use them.
P. Why has the debate been so visceral?
R. This is a law that is very close to the human condition. Death is only part of the cycle of life, but it is extremely painful to see people suffering. And when that suffering is hopeless, you cannot condemn someone to endure it until they die. Or the terrible situation of dementias, when you become a vegetable and lose all integrity. You can’t make people suffer by lengthening their life if you can’t alleviate it.
P. Vox has announced that it will appeal the rule to the Constitutional Court. Are you concerned?
R. Well, that is almost expected. But you have to see what has happened in Canada and Colombia. In both countries, it was the Constitutional Court that, in response to a citizen’s demand, took the step of forcing it to be legal. There is more and more support. There is a recent ruling from the German Constitution that says that if a person does not want palliative care, they can refuse it, that for that they have the right to decide what to do with their life. There are advances that push us in this direction, and we cannot ignore them.
P. Have you as a doctor also been asked on any occasion to shorten the agony of a patient?
R. The truth is that I haven’t exercised for a long time; I’ve been involved in politics all my life. But what is certain is that when a family member of a person with complicated cancer sees that you give them treatment so that they do not suffer more, they do not know how to thank you.
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