Portugal’s Parliament has Recently Legalized Assisted Suicide 

Portugal’s Parliament has Recently Legalized Assisted Suicide 

Euthanasia means intentionally causing the death of someone who is very sick or in extreme pain. It can be divided into two types: voluntary and non-voluntary. Recently, Portugal passed a law allowing euthanasia for people in severe suffering from incurable illnesses, joining a few other countries. The rules and laws surrounding euthanasia and assisted suicide differ depending on the country and involve various legal and ethical factors. Portugal’s parliament has now voted to permit medically assisted suicide in limited situations. Let’s break this down and understand what euthanasia and assisted suicide are.

Understanding The Terms

There are many terms around this topic and it’s important to understand the difference first!

  • In assisted suicide, also called physician-aided suicide, a person is given the tools to take their own life.
  • Voluntary euthanasia occurs when a competent individual experiencing unbearable suffering, requests and gives informed consent for euthanasia.
  • Non-voluntary euthanasia occurs when a person is not able to give consent due to reasons like being in a coma, having cognitive impairment, etc. In these cases,  a legal guardian or medical expert decides whether to end. The patient’s life based on their perceived best interests.
  • Passive euthanasia occurs when medical professionals decide not to initiate or discontinue life-sustaining procedures for a patient who is terminally sick or in a vegetative condition. The idea behind this is to let the patient die naturally rather than intentionally causing it.

In India, the Supreme Court decriminalised passive euthanasia in 2018. They made it legal for people to reject life support or medical treatment in certain situations.

In Portugal, the euthanasia bill faced opposition from the president and underwent multiple reviews. The most recent version of the bill was ratified by the ruling leaders, who hold a majority in parliament. The law allows adults over 18 who are suffering unbearably from a terminal illness to ask for assistance in dying. Those who are in excruciating agony for an extended period of time are subject to the application of the legislation, unless they are declared mentally incapable of making the decision.

Let’s Hear The Arguments!

While there are differing opinions about euthanasia. The ones who support it stand by the fact that euthanasia offers a humane solution to relieve significant physical or emotional suffering is one of the main justifications for the practice. They contend that the decision to die should be one’s alone, undisturbed by criticism from others. Additionally, it can stop prolonged periods of suffering, allowing families to say their goodbyes and find closure sooner. In order for people to benefit from resources, medical procedures might move resources in their favour.

Opponents of euthanasia contend that despite the suffering, we should preserve every human life because it is valuable in and of itself. They believe that if requested to end a patient’s life, doctors, whose primary responsibility is to save life, could face conflicting ethical standards. Opponents express concern that vulnerable people, such as the elderly, the disabled, or the mentally ill, may be at risk of coercion or abuse if this spreads. It has the power to alter how society views something grave like death and make it less serious.

So What Happened In Portugal?

While the debates go on, euthanasia is completely legal in Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, the three nations in Europe. Those in favour of the euthanasia law in Portugal feel that any issues or challenges that had previously blocked the law’s full approval have been rectified or solved. This law emphasises that foreigners are not permitted to seek euthanasia aid within the nation and that it only applies to citizens and legal residents. Isabel Moreira, a lawmaker in favour of legalizing euthanasia, expressed her relief: “We have reached the end of a long fight.”

And while we are yet to pick a side, it’s important to clarify that we are not endorsing or supporting suicide as an option. It is critical for someone with suicidal tendencies or thoughts to seek assistance from mental health specialists who can offer the necessary support.

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