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18th Mar 2021

Spain to legalise euthanasia from June in landmark ruling

Danny Jones

The landmark ruling is being finalised today and will legal euthanasia in the country from June

The debate surrounding euthanasia is one that continues to be discussed year in, year out, within the world health forum. Issues surrounding consent, religion and many other influences factor into it but Spain is set to take a huge step forward in relation to the practice.

Spanish parliament will gather today for final approval of a bill legalising euthanasia. This new law will allow people with “serious and incurable” diseases that cause “unbearable suffering” to end their lives if that is their wish.

Landmark ruling

The law will come into effect in June and will allow for both medical professionals to deliberately end life, and to help patients carry out the necessary actions to end their own – i.e. ‘assisted suicide’.

This will be a landmark ruling, as there are very few other EU nations where euthanasia/assisted suicide is permitted. Outside Dignitas – the Swiss, non-profit organisation – only the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg allow this practice to be lawfully carried out.

Outside of Europe, New Zealand has also recently been voting on the issue of euthanasia. After originally posing the End of Life Choice Act in 2019 and a referendum in 2020, the legislation will finally come into effect in November this year.

Proper procedures and processes

The decision of ending someone’s life is obviously a serious one and, as such, the processes and policies are strictly laid out. The request to end life must be submitted twice and 15 days apart, giving patients time to make sure it is the right decision for them.

Furthermore, the second request must be approved by another separate medical professional in agreeance with both the patient and the first doctor. Lastly, requests can be refused at any point during the process if the person in question does not/no longer meets the requirements.


It is worth noting that as a traditionally religious and largely Catholic country, there has been plenty of resistance to the idea in Spain. Despite the fact that approximately 90 per cent of Spaniards were in favour of euthanasia in a recent opinion poll, the Catholic church has publicly condemned the law, equating it to “a form of murder.”

The religious backdrop has regularly obstructed the decriminalisation of euthanasia over the years. The separation of church and state often becomes an issue in this case.

Only last year, Portugal were deliberating over a similar bill which led to protests outside Parliament. Just last week, after having finally passed the bill in January, the constitutional court overturned the decision, saying the legislation is too imprecise and needs to be further evaluated with “the necessary rigour.”

Regardless, it seems that calls for euthanasia and assisted suicide continue to ring out. Should Spain succeed in finalising the new law, it could set further precedents for other countries, EU or otherwise, to examine their own stance on the matter.