This marks the fourth time that the parliament has tried and failed to secure pro-physician-assisted death legislation in Portugal. Each time, it has been blocked by either the president or Portugal’s Constitutional Court. This time, the president had specific legal concerns about the bill that he wants Parliament to address.
“Specifically, I ask the parliament to consider clarifying who defines the patient’s physical incapacity to self-administer lethal drugs, as well as who should ensure medical supervision during the act of medically assisted death,” he said in a letter to Parliament.
If Parliament amends the bill to accommodate the president’s “very specific requests,” he says he will agree to put it into effect. But even if Parliament does not make the president’s desired changes, he said he will still be “obliged to promulgate” the bill, according to Portugal Resident.
In a question-and-answer session at Aveiro University, President Rebelo de Sousa said, “The law is very complex and bureaucratic, with a long and difficult application, and it has to be precise so that later if parliament wants to maintain its approval, it will be possible to execute it.”
The current version of the bill states that assisted death can take place “by decision of the person, of legal majority age, whose will is current and reiterated, serious, free and clarified, in a situation of the suffering of great intensity, with definitive injury of extreme gravity or serious and incurable disease, when practiced or assisted by health professionals.”
But despite strict regulations, other nations have proven that once assisted death is legalized, those restrictions begin to erode. In Canada, doctors are now being pressured to push assisted death on patients because it has proven to be more cost-effective for the government-run healthcare system, turning the so-called right to die into a duty to kill. Individuals there have requested assisted death for homelessness and the inability to access proper medical care. In the Netherlands, young children will now be at risk of euthanasia.
Additionally, data from Oregon reveals that people who choose assisted suicide frequently do so because of a “loss of autonomy,” not because of a desire for a peaceful death or the avoidance of suffering. In addition, multiple studies, including those published in prestigious medical journals, have revealed that people seek assisted suicide because they are depressed, hopeless, have no support, and are afraid of being a burden. But the peaceful death they are promised is not so peaceful and they may end up silently drowning while, to the onlooker, they appear to be at peace because of the use of paralytic drugs.