Spain’s lower house of parliament has backed a bill legalising euthanasia, despite strong opposition from religious groups, the legislation allows those with “serious and incurable” diseases that cause “unbearable suffering” to choose to end their lives.
The bill now goes to the Senate which can suggest amendments, if passed, Spain would become the fourth and largest country in the European Union to legalise euthanasia. Such practices are currently only allowed in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The bill was approved by 198-138 votes in the lower house after a long debate on Thursday.
Health Minister Salvador Illa told lawmakers it was a significant ruling. “It is an important day for all citizens because we are moving towards a more humane and just society. But above all, it is an important day for those people who are in a situation of serious suffering, and it is also important for their families and people close to them,” Mr Illa said. Deputies from the right-wing Popular Party and the far-right Vox party voted against the legislation.
“The euthanasia law is a defeat for civilisation and a victory for the culture of death, for those who believe that some lives are more worthy than others,” said Vox leader Santiago Abascal. Outside the parliament building in the capital Madrid, protesters rallied against the proposed bill. Some in the crowd held a banner that read “Government of death”. Religious groups in the predominantly Catholic nation believe euthanasia is wrong.