Portugal’s President considers euthanasia bill to be unconstitutional

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC)

On January 29, the Portuguese Parliament voted to legalize euthanasia. The bill  allows euthanasia for people who are not terminally ill but rather suffering from permanent injuries or a grave and incurable illness. 

President Marcelo de Sousa

EPC responded by urging people to contact President Marcelo de Sousa and ask him to veto the bill.

On February 19, we reported that President de Sousa decided not to sign the bill into law but to refer it to the country’s Constitutional court for evaluation. 

The Portugal News is reporting that President de Sousa considers the euthanasia bill to be unconstitutional.

The Portugal news article is not saying that President de Sousa thinks that the concept of euthanasia is unconstitutional but rather that this legislation is unconstitutional. 

The article states:

According to the head of state, “it does not seem that the legislator provides the physician involved in the procedure with a minimally secure legislative framework that can guide his performance”.

“In effect, when referring to the concept of suffering, it seems to inculcate a strong dimension of subjectivity. Since these concepts must be, in the terms of the decree, as will be materialized, filled out, essentially, by the guiding physician and by the specialist doctor, it is unclear how this suffering should be measured: whether from the patient’s exclusive perspective, whether from the doctor’s assessment of it. In any case, a concept with this degree of indeterminacy does not seem to conform to the demands of normative density resulting from the Fundamental Law”, he adds.

In other words, the lack of definition in the euthanasia law, its subjectivity,  does not conform with Portugal’s Constitution which upholds that human life is “sacrosanct”.

The Portuguese Medical Association stated in July  that it opposes euthanasia and informed the government that they will not permit doctors to participate in 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 bill is unconstitutional.

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