Saturday, October 16

Congress approves the euthanasia law by an absolute majority




The socialist deputy María Luisa Carcedo promised that “the third time was the charm” and that’s how it was. The Congress of Deputies has approved this Thursday by absolute majority the organic law regulating euthanasia. The PSOE had tried three times since Pedro Sánchez arrived at Moncloa after the motion of censure against Rajoy in 2018. But he has now succeeded thanks to the support of the pro-independence and nationalist parties, the radical left and the ‘flirtation’ of Ciudadanos with the President of the Government.

The law came to Congress in January of last year as a proposal for an organic law to be able to avoid the mandatory reports of the Council of State and it was processed in just seven months, since the other seven were suspended due to the state of alarm. Its approval this Thursday comes amid the social trauma due to the death of more than 100,000 people during the year that we have been from a pandemic – practically the same time that the law has been processed.

During her debate in plenary session, the socialist deputy María Luisa Carcedo, intellectual author of the “provision of aid to die” defended “Freedom with capital letters” that supposes this new individual right. “Until now, suffering from a degenerative disease was a crime and the sentence was a cruel and painful end,” recalled the former Minister of Health.

In constant allusions to the “architects” of the new regulation, Carcedo thanked the support of the parliamentary groups that have made possible the demands of more than two decades ago. Ramon Sampedro; the doctor Luis Montes, from the Right to Die with Dignity Association; Maribel Tellaetxe, a patient with Alzheimer’s who died in 2019 while awaiting the release of euthanasia or Ángel Hernández, who helped his wife die, Maria Jose Carrasco, with a very advanced multiple sclerosis.

The law approved this Thursday 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 exceed our country in coverage of end-of-life care.

The Spanish Society of Palliative Care (Secpal) estimates that six out of ten sick people die each year in our country without receiving this type of care. More than 55,000 people also died last year while waiting for aid to dependency that never came.

The PP deputy, José Ignacio Echániz, warned that this new regulation “is not designed for exceptional cases but for diseases and chronic suffering and that has a powerful effect called for the most vulnerable people in our society who should be the more protected ». «Pushing them to euthanasia is a shameful act of social abandonment that conceals a denial of better social assistance. With stunted palliative care there will never be true freedom to choose, “he denounced.

During his speech, Echániz touched on another of the black holes of the law: the registry of conscientious objectors. As he recalled, the misnamed “right to die” is “an anti-medical and anti-professional act” that the Government will launch “with the coercion of a black list of objectors.” “This is an insult to the professionals whom society has applauded throughout this pandemic and an intolerable blackmail that will be turned against them,” he said.

“A mockery of the Spanish”

The deputy for Vox, Lourdes Méndez, accused the PSOE and its partners in the Government of “opting for death instead of care.” “This law is a mockery of the Spanish when they have refused to implement a comprehensive palliative care law.” Méndez warned that this new regulation represents a “profound modification, since the State no longer has in its hands the health of citizens but life.” Life cannot be at the disposal of the state. It is a failure of civilization », he assured.

Méndez announced that his parliamentary group will file an appeal for the unconstitutionality of the euthanasia law. They also study the possibility of request a precautionary measure to prevent the law from being applied while the appeal is not resolved. «The 52 deputies of Vox will not rest to ensure that at the end of their lives all patients can die with dignity without pain and without being killed. You can be sure, “he said.

With the approval of the law, euthanasia and assisted suicide will be included in the portfolio of common services of the National Health System (SNS). The standard establishes its entry into force three months after its publication in the Official State Gazette (BOE), which will happen in mid-June. Other countries such as New Zealand or the state of Victoria (Australia), the last to regulate this right, it took more than a year to implement the law.

Sánchez, “a path of progress”

“With Pedro Sánchez we begin a path of progress that will make us a more just and decent society,” said the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, who promised this Thursday before the hemicycle to start the process as soon as possible so that the “death aid benefit” is included in the SNS.

Spain becomes from this Thursday in the seventh country in the world to regulate euthanasia and in the third, after the Netherlands and Belgium, to decriminalize both modalities: the administration of lethal injection (euthanasia) or the prescription of pentobarbital (assisted suicide). The Parliament of Portugal also legally recognized the right to die on January 29, but the Constitutional Court has overturned the law so it will not enter into force.

In other countries of the world, only assisted suicide is decriminalized or regulated as is the case of Germany, Japan, New Zealand and some US states (Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Vermont, Montana and California) and one of Australia (Victoria). In total, only 2.5 percent of the world’s population has access to the so-called “right to die.”

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