Featured image of post Spain finally legalizes euthanasia
Featured image of post Spain finally legalizes euthanasia

Spain finally legalizes euthanasia

On the 17th of December, the Spanish government reviewed and approved the proposal of law on euthanasia. Within the Congress of Deputies, not everybody was a supporter, but general surveys say that most Spanish people were in favour of it.

What does euthanasia mean?

Euthanasia is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve chronic pain and unbearable suffering. Up to this point, only The Netherlands, Belgium, Colombia, Luxemburg and Canada have laws to regulate this kind of practice. Some others are in the process of doing it, and some have legalized a similar practice called assisted suicide (in which case are the people who want to die the ones who put an end to their life).

I nice memory to hold on to.

Who proposed the law?

The limitation of therapeutic effort or the palliation of pain are not only options but they are patient’s rights recognized by the law. However, this was not enough to solve the issue behind a dignified death as it is shown in the movie Mar Adentro (The sea inside, 2004). Since then, euthanasia has been a matter for discussion between Spanish people, even though that, the law was not proposed until 2019 by the leftwing party Unidas Podemos. Unfortunately, it was not even voted for due to the instability of the government back then.

During the last few years, Spain has seen how several patients publicly demanded a law for euthanasia creating even a platform called Derecho A Morir (Right to die), in which they could register their wishes as to how they wanted to die in case they lost their ability to decide for themselves. This organization also helped to educate the population in any matter related to a dignified death, such as palliative care or the writing of a testament.

All of this and the famous case of a couple who videotaped what then was an illegal euthanasia helped bringing the subject to the surface. All Spain watched how María José Carrasco, suffering from MS, discussed death with her husband Ángel Hernández several times before he administered the medication that would give peace to his wife. He was then charged with a crime of cooperating with suicide but fortunately didn’t have to go to prison and could continue his fight. Today he still misses his wife but he is proud and happy to see this law finally came through.

What will it be like?

First, only patients in a severe, chronic and disabling condition can apply for euthanasia. The patient has to be well informed about what euthanasia means before any process is started. The application must be handwritten or declared by other means that can be recorded, and must show that is not the result of any external pressure. It must be repeated fifteen days later in order to avoid any changes of mind. Once the application is fully submitted two doctors will review the patient files to discard any mental issues and afterwards a commission will consider the case. Once it is approved, professionals have the option to invoke conscientious objection.

Death, a human right

A dignified life is something we all deserve by nature, but what does that mean? The idea of a dignified life is associated with the existence a person can lead when their basic needs are satisfied. By contrast, those who cannot meet these basic needs cannot have a decent life. And what sense does it make to live if you have no control over your life?

Euthanasia, a dignified death, is a human right and therefore it should be respected. This 2020 more than ever we understand how important is to talk about death and its meaning. When we talk about death we are talking about human dignity and human suffering. This two subjects are delicate and avoided more often than they should. Allowing people to decide for themselves is the least we, as society, can do for each other.

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