Portugal passes euthanasia bill after multiple tries, overriding president’s veto

assisted suicide, euthanasia, suicide, Portugal

After numerous attempts to legalize euthanasia, the parliament in Portugal has finally succeeded in overriding the president’s veto and getting their fatal bill passed.

Last month, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa vetoed the euthanasia bill, in the fourth attempt to legalize assisted dying. Previous attempts had similarly been blocked by Rebelo de Sousa or the Constitutional Court. This time, an absolute majority — more than 116 out of the 230 MPs — voted in favor of the bill, effectively overriding Rebelo de Sousa’s veto.

Rebelo de Sousa insinuated he was not pleased with the decision, but promised to enact the law as a matter of obligation.

“I swore to the Constitution,” he said, according to EuroNews. “The Constitution obliges the President to promulgate a law that he vetoed and that was confirmed by the Assembly of the Republic… it is my constitutional duty. The Assembly confirms, the President promulgates.”

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In previous attempts to pass the bill, either Rebelo de Sousa or the Constitutional Court had criticized the “vague” language in the legislation, which Portuguese lawmakers would then change. But after the fourth failure, the MPs instead opted for a second vote. This iteration of the bill says that adults with “lasting” and “unbearable” pain can request to undergo assisted suicide, and that euthanasia can be allowed when “medically assisted suicide is impossible due to a physical incapacitation of the patient.”

The second vote was passed just one day before the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima, one of the most celebrated feast days in the Catholic Church. This is particularly meaningful in Portugal, as the country has a majority-Catholic population, and Fatima is a Portuguese city. This decision was condemned by Pope Francis the very next day.

“Today when we celebrate the memory of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to the little shepherds of Fatima, I am very sad, because in the country where Our Lady appeared, a law to kill has been enacted,” he said. “It is one more step in the long list of countries with euthanasia.”

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