Portugal’s Constitutional Court rejects euthanasia law

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In a 7-5 ruling,  Portugal’s Constitutional Court on Monday rejected the euthanasia bill that was passed by Portugal’s parliament on January 29 but not signed by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

President Rebelo de Sousa instead referred it to the Constitutional Court for evaluation, stating that the bill was “excessively imprecise,” potentially creating a situation of “legal uncertainty.” 

The Portuguese American Journal reported that in a statement, the Constitutional Court said it had concluded

that “the law is imprecise in identifying the circumstances under which those procedures can occur.” The court stated the law must be “clear, precise, clearly envisioned and controllable.” The law lacks the “indispensable rigor.”

The Portuguese American Journal also reported that

The ruling Socialist Party has already stated that it will reword   the legislation and pass it again.

In July, 2020 I reported that the Portuguese Medical Association, which 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.

Similar to Canada’s euthanasia law, the proposed 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 included psychiatric suffering, which permits euthanasia for psychiatric conditions, even when the person asking to be killed considers the treatment options unacceptable.

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

Portugal needs to care for and not kill its citizens.

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