Euthanasia in Portugal: The Ball Is Back in the President's Court

November 18, 2021
Assembly of the Republic of Portugal

On November 5, 2021, a few weeks before the end of the legislative session in Portugal - which is due to end with the dissolution of the Lower House on Christmas Eve - the left-wing bloc approved a new law on euthanasia. The ball has now been thrown back into the court of the head of state, a practicing Catholic who has never hidden his opposition to the project.

The Portuguese Socialist Party is rubbing its hands, because it has made euthanasia one of its main themes of the progressive crusade: the new bill decriminalizing death in white gloves has just been approved in the Lisbon Parliament by 138 votes “for,” 84 “against,” and five abstentions.

A result that will not surprise anyone, given that neither the “conservatives” of the PSD, nor the Communists had imposed any voting instructions on their members.

The vote on November 5 came the day after the announcement of the dissolution of Parliament by the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo, who decided to call early parliamentary elections for January 30, 2022.

This dissolution follows the rejection of the draft budget for 2022 of the minority socialist government, released by its former allies of the radical left.

The new version of the law on euthanasia includes an introduction defining the concepts of “definitive injury of extreme gravity” or “serious or incurable disease,” which the Constitutional Court considered too vague.

Last January, after a first vote, the law was brought before the head of state. The latter had three possible choices: exercise his right of veto, accept the law, or submit it to the Constitutional Court for it to verify its conformity with the fundamental law of the land.

Marcelo Rebelo had opted to submit it to the court.

With the vote in extremis of November 5, 2021, the issue has once again returned to the President of the Republic, a practicing Catholic who knows he will not be able to evade the issue indefinitely.

In any case, the fall of the Antonio Costa’s government, who will run again as a candidate for the PSP, opens an uncertain scenario in Portugal, one of the beneficiaries of which could be the National Conservative Party.

According to estimates dating from mid-October 2021, the Chega could thus obtain nearly 10% of the vote, which would allow it to go from its current single seat to nearly 18 seats in parliament.