In order to oppose the perverse effects of the recent legalization of euthanasia, the Church in Spain, pushed by Catholic associations, has decided to create “free zones” within which death in white gloves has no citizenship rights.
The idea is to create establishments where the “culture of care” prevails, without health professionals feeling compelled to put an end to the lives of their patients, nor the latter being considered as a burden, and patients are assured that they will be taken care of until their natural end. Such is the objective of the “spaces free from euthanasia,” created almost a year and a half ago.
It was on June 24, 2021, that Msgr. Luis Argüello, Archbishop of Valladolid and spokesperson for the Spanish Bishops Conference (CEE) announced the creation of free zones where patients and their families will have the certainty that euthanasia will not be practiced under any circumstances. Special signage to that effect has even been put up at the entrance to the affected healthcare establishments.
“Just as some request euthanasia in special circumstances through the drafting of advance directives, so others, in their directives, require a whole range of medical and spiritual care in order to address the last moments of their lives,” said the Archbishop, in explanation of the initiative approved by the EEC.
One of the promoters of the project, Luis Zayas, explains to Omnes, on November 7, 2022, “it is encouraging to see that many institutions are clear on the principles according to which they exercise their medical activity or their assistance, and are not ready to deviate from it.”
However, there is no lack of pressure, because these free zones seem more or less at odds with the text of the enacted law which stipulates that euthanasia can be applied to the applicant in his residence. What would happen, if a patient from one of these areas, changed his mind and asked for euthanasia? Should he then leave the establishment?
Even the promotion of euthanasia – provided for by law in any healthcare establishment – is banned from these areas. Luis Zayas recognizes this: “This is a complex question from a legal point of view. The Spanish Bioethics Committee published a report in which it considered that the conscientious objection of establishments was covered by our legal system.”
“However, the law is careful to address this expressly in its articulation. We are therefore faced with a question that will eventually have to be settled in court.”
For the record, the Spanish Parliament definitively approved the legalization of euthanasia on March 18, 2021. Spain thus became the fourth European country and the sixth in the world to allow a patient suffering from an incurable disease to die in order to end his suffering, after the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Canada, and New Zealand.
The new Spanish legislation entered into force on June 25, 2022, it is reserved for people with “a serious and incurable illness” or chronic pain “placing [them] in a situation of incapacity.”
Since the law came into force a year ago, according to official statistics, 336 people have requested euthanasia throughout the country, with the highest number of requests coming from the Basque Country and Catalonia, which alone account for half of the assisted suicides.