Law allowing euthanasia in Portugal moves a step closer

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal’s parliament approved Friday the final wording of legislation allowing euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill and gravely injured people.

The law now goes to the country’s president, who could try to block it.

Lawmakers voted 136-78, with four abstentions, in favor of the law that combined five right-to-die bills passed last February.

After their passage, and in accordance with parliamentary procedure, the bills went through committees where administrative procedures and other details of the euthanasia process were set out and merged into a single piece of legislation.

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa must decide in coming weeks whether to approve the law, veto it or send it to the Constitutional Court for review.

Portugal’s Constitution states that human life is “sacrosanct,” though abortion has been legal in the country since 2007.

Parliament can override the president’s veto by voting a second time for approval.

Euthanasia is when a doctor directly administers fatal drugs to a patient, while medically-assisted suicide is when patients administer the lethal drug themselves, under medical supervision.

Several other European Union nations allow euthanasia and assisted suicide.

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