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Euthanasia Only Available if Assisted Suicide Impossible

Medically assisted death can only occur through euthanasia if assisted suicide is impossible due to the patient’s physical disability, according to the new law that was voted on today in parliament.

“Medically assisted death can only occur by euthanasia when medically assisted suicide is impossible due to the patient’s physical disability,” is established in a new point added to Article 3 of the decree that regulates the conditions in which medically assisted death is not punishable and to which Lusa had access.

This is one of the amendments proposed by deputies to the last decree approved by parliament and which was eventually rejected by the Constitutional Court at the end of January, although not for this reason.

One of the unconstitutionalities pointed out by the judges of the Ratton Palace to the last decree was the fact that the legislator had made “doubt arise” in the definition of ‘suffering of great intensity,’ whether the requirement of physical, psychological and spiritual suffering was cumulative or alternative.

Compared to the last decree, the reference to physical, psychological, and spiritual suffering is removed, keeping the terms of the remaining definition.

In this new text, ‘suffering of great intensity’ is defined as “suffering resulting from a serious and incurable disease or from definitive injury of extreme severity, with great intensity, persistent, continuous or permanent and considered intolerable by the person themself.”

Article 9, referring to the ‘implementation of the patient’s decision,’ reads that “the guiding physician informs and clarifies the patient about the methods available to practice medically assisted death, namely the self-administration of lethal drugs by the patient themself or administration by a doctor or health professional duly qualified for this purpose, but under medical supervision,” adding the phrase: “when the patient is physically unable to self-administer lethal drugs.”

From this point, the phrase “the decision being the sole responsibility of the patient” was removed.

Assisted death is the act that leads to the death of a patient by his will, via a health professional (euthanasia), or assisted suicide.

The Portuguese parliament again approved today the decriminalisation of medically assisted death.

Samantha Gannon

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