Portugal’s President announces law decriminalizing euthanasia

LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal’s conservative President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa signed legislation on Tuesday decriminalizing euthanasia in the predominantly Catholic country after parliament overturned four of his vetoes on Friday.

The president signed the legislation into law “as he is required” under the constitution, the president said in a statement.

Portugal has thus become the sixth country in the European Union to legalize medically-assisted death, a process that a majority of Portuguese have long supported, opinion polls have shown.

In January 2021, the previous government passed a first bill legalizing medically assisted death under certain conditions, but Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa vetoed it because of “highly undefined concepts”.

After many back-and-forths, the law was finally ratified by the Parliament with 129 votes in favor, 81 against and one vote without the changes requested by Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, thus overriding his veto.

The Social Democratic Party, the main centre-right opposition party, however, said it would appeal to the Constitutional Court.

The law specifies that people will be authorized to request aid in dying in cases where they find themselves “in a state of extreme suffering, with permanent injuries of extreme gravity or with a serious and terminal illness”.

It provides for a period of two months between the acceptance and processing of a request and makes psychological assistance mandatory.

(Reporting by Andrei Khalip; French edition edited by Kate Enstringer, Blandine Heinault)

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