Portugal to vote on January 29 on euthanasia bill. No terminal illness requirement.

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Portugal parliament is set to vote on a euthanasia bill on January 29, a bill that allows euthanasia for people who are not terminally ill but rather suffering from permanent injuries or a grave and incurable illness. 

The term permanent injuries specifically permits euthanasia for people with disabilities. 

Similar to Canada’s euthanasia law, the bill allows euthanasia based on subjective, not objective, considerations. Even if the “suffering” can be alleviated, euthanasia would be permitted based on whether or not the person considers the treatment acceptable. 

The term suffering also includes psychiatric suffering. This means euthanasia for psychiatric conditions would be permitted when the person asking to be killed considers the treatment options unacceptable.

United Nations experts published a press release on January 25, titled: “Disability is not a reason to sanction medically assisted dying.” It expresses alarm at a growing trend of nations enacting legislation enabling access to medically assisted dying based largely on having a disability or disabling conditions, including old age. The press release states:

“Disability should never be a ground or justification to end someone’s life directly or indirectly.”

Such legislative provisions would institutionalize and legally authorize ableism, and directly violate Article 10 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which requires States to ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively enjoy their inherent right to life on an equal basis with others.

In July I reported that the Portuguese Medical Association, that opposes euthanasia, informed the government that they will not permit doctors to participate on the euthanasia commission (the commission to approve euthanasia). At the same time, a group of 15 law professors, including Professor Jorge Miranda, known as the father of Portugal’s Constitution, stated that the euthanasia bills are unconstitutional. 

President Marcelo de Sousa, who was re-elected on January 24, has indicated that he may veto the euthanasia bill. 

If Portuguese legislators pass the euthanasia bill, President de Sousa must veto it.

Portugal needs to care for and not kill its citizens.

Editor’s note. This appeared at Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.