In a full “ad hoc” forced by the Socialist Party, the Congress of Deputies approved this Thursday by a vast majority the proposed organic law regulating euthanasia, which will turn the “right to die” into a “claim” of the National Health System (SNS).
With 198 votes in favor (PSOE, Podemos, BNG, ERC, Junts per Catalunya, Más País, Bildu, PNV, CUP, Ciudadanos), 138 against (PP, Vox, UPN) and two abstentions, the new rule has managed to circumvent the first stage of its parliamentary procedure. Only PP and Vox have led a clear opposition to this law that will make Spain the sixth country in the world and the fourth in Europe to legalize euthanasia.
During the parliamentary debate, the rapporteur for this law, the socialist deputy María Luisa Carcedo, defended that the new regulation is “an advance in civil rights, which it will bring more freedom to citizens ”and in no case is it“ an imposition of the State ”. “It is the patient who decides, the law only establishes the conditions and procedures in which this new right to die can be exercised,” he said.
Carcedo charges against the Bioethics Committee
The former Minister of Health also went on the defensive against the criticism of PP and Vox on the null social debate and public hearing that the parties of the Government coalition and their partners have given to the experts in Bioethics and palliative care during the processing of the law.
In fact, the Bioethics Committee (CBE) unanimously and without particular votes rejected the bill, concluding that «There are solid health, ethical, legal reasons, economic and social to reject the transformation of euthanasia into a subjective right and a public benefit ”.
However, Carcedo – with no argument other than “the great social demand” that the regulation of euthanasia has among citizens – attributed the unfavorable report of this committee to his ignorance of the articles of the new standard. “Of course we have read the report of the Bioethics Committee but it gives the impression that they have not read the law,” he said.
The Government is in a great hurry to launch this “death aid benefit” that has been processed in Congress in record time and in the midst of the pandemic. The Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, once again confirmed this urgency, by personally committing himself this Thursday before the Lower House to work so that the new provision “It will be made effective in the National Health System as soon as possible.”
The bill that will now continue its processing in the Senate it will be the least restrictive of all those that exist. Spain will also become the only country in Europe with a “death aid benefit”, but without universal access to palliative care. Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands – the only European countries that have euthanasia regulated – far surpass our country in the coverage of this health care.
Faced with this reality, the popular deputy José Ignacio Echániz reminded the Government that without universal access to palliative care “there is no possibility of choice, nor freedom because the only thing that is offered to patients is euthanasia.” “The level of civilization and maturity of a country is measured by how it treats the most vulnerable. Responding with euthanasia to the debt that our society has contracted with its elderly and health care people does not seem the best way of responsibility, intergenerational solidarity, or the minimum social and political solidarity, “he said.
Formations such as ERC, EH Bildu, BNG or CUP, although they have shown their support for the norm, continue to think that it is “insufficient” and, therefore, they have kept alive in this debate several amendments that, finally, have not been approved. These formations have spoken, for example, to extend the right to minors from the age of 16, consider the vital fatigue to request assisted suicide, or the suppression or simplification of the Evaluation and Guarantee Committee, among others.
After the green light granted this Thursday by Congress, the bill will now go to the Senate and it is possible that he will no longer return to the lower house, since the articles of the regulation have already incorporated amendments from almost all the parliamentary groups. If so, the proposal will go directly from the Senate to the BOE (Official State Gazette) and will enter into force three months after its publication. This means that euthanasia could be legal in Spain from May. In the event of incorporating an amendment and returning to Congress, its legalization would have to wait until June.
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