Parliament Portugal votes for legalising euthanasia


Southern Europe


Citizens react during an earlier euthanasia debate and vote in the Portuguese Parliament in Lisbon, on February 20th, 2020.

The Portuguese government has repaired the euthanasia bill successfully. The parliament voted in favour of the proposal late last week. The original bill was blocked in March.

The Constitutional Court had named objections against the bill. The judges in the court had doubts about the circumstances under which doctors can assist patients with “grave, incurable and irreversible” conditions, the news portal Politico reports. The original proposal was criticised as too vague.

It was quite a large majority of 138 against 84 members that voted for the amended bill.

A growing number of European countries have legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide. It started with the Netherlands in 2000 and was followed by Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain. At this moment, also Austria is debating a bill about assisted suicide. Switzerland only allows assisted suicide.

Bill is no law yet

The Portuguese bill, however, is no law yet. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa could impose a veto, forcing a further parliamentary review, or send the bill back to the Constitutional Court for further evaluation.

Members of the opposition lawmakers could also request a judicial review, claiming the bill was hastily pushed up the parliamentary agenda to ensure its approval before a snap general election due on January 30th.

A poll last year showed almost 60 per cent of Portuguese people supports decriminalisation.


In a reaction, the Ethical Action Movement expressed “huge disappointment” by the result of the vote. “The Parliament transformed the inviolability of human life guaranteed by the Constitution, into a principle of opposite meaning: The law of euthanasia allows the violation of human life in moments of great suffering”.

The civic movement, founded on January 1st, 2021, regrets that after the abolition of the death penalty in the 19th century, the Portuguese State now has in its hands “the possibility of attacking human life, as long as there is the concurrence of the interested party’s will”.

The civic movement ‘Stop Euthanasia’ deeply regrets the result of the vote. According to the movement, the debate about the bill was “carried out hastily”, and the vote took place “without meeting the minimum conditions to take a step of this gravity consciously”.



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.