The President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, scrutinized legal texts that sought to decriminalize euthanasia in the country and used all possible legal avenues to block a rule that would have forced many practicing Catholics , like the President himself, makes it uncomfortable. But surely Rebelo de Sousa never thought of ignoring the constitution that he so eloquently explained to his students as a professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon.
As the Portuguese constitution establishes, the president issued the decree on suicide and euthanasia late Tuesday, ratifying it without touching a comma for a second time despite a veto carried by the head after it was approved by the republic’s assembly last week with an absolute majority. Of the state
The Constitution establishes that if the President of the Republic returns a law to Parliament and it is ratified by a majority, its promulgation by the Head of State is mandatory within a maximum period of eight days. And that’s exactly what Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa briefly announced he would do, which is what the institution’s brief official statement also says, and what ultimately happened. It is a move that ends two years of coming and going over the legal text by the Assembly of the Republic, the Portuguese Presidency and the Constitutional Court. During this time, it has been vetoed twice by Rebelo de Sousa, declaring it unconstitutional on two occasions and four versions of the decree have been drafted. The approved person establishes that euthanasia can only be used if the patient is “physically prevented from practicing assisted suicide.”
However, this rule will not apply now. Before this it is required to develop its rules, which must be drawn up and approved by the government within a maximum period of 90 days, although the executive has often exceeded this legal limit with other rules. The regulation would also have to be evaluated by the President of the Republic, who could veto it directly or refer it to the Constitutional Court. It doesn’t seem like there’s going to be an easier path to regulation than to standardize.
There is also another constraint announced in Parliament on polling day. Some representatives of the Social Democratic Party (PSD, centre-right) have already announced that they will request the Constitutional Court to carry out a post-audit of the approved criteria. The euthanasia decision went ahead with the votes of the Socialist Party (PS), Liberal Initiative, Bloco de Esquerda, Livre and PAN, as well as seven delegates from the PSD. Most MPs from the PSD, the far-right of Chega, the Portuguese Communist Party and four socialists spoke out against it. Both the PS and the PSD gave freedom of vote to their groups.
Its approval was criticized by Pope Francis, who will visit Portugal in August to participate in World Youth Day. “I am very sad because in the country where Our Lady appeared, a law has been approved to kill her,” the Pope declared the day after the assembly voted.
The standard prefers assisted suicide over euthanasia, which can only be used when it is physically impossible to commit suicide. The patient who wishes to request clinical assistance in dying must submit the request in writing to a “guiding doctor”, who must rule in favor or against the request. If he refuses it, the patient has the right to refer his request to another doctor. If this is accepted due to compliance with legal requirements, the doctor must inform the patient about palliative care and available treatment, which he must confirm in writing a second time if he wishes to resort to assisted suicide or euthanasia Is.
The final decision is reportedly submitted to the commission for the verification and evaluation of clinical procedures for medically assisted death, which is composed of a magistrate, a prosecutor, a doctor, a nurse and an expert in bioethics . in an interview given to news daily, The president of the College of Physicians, Carlos Cortés, has already announced that he is not in favor of appointing his representative to that commission and that he is against the criminalization of euthanasia. Though the official position of the college will be known in a few days, but on previous occasions they have been against appointing a representative to the commission.