Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has once again vetoed the euthanasia law passed by the Portuguese Parliament. The President of the Portuguese Republic asked for details on the conditions required to be able to request assisted suicide, because, according to him, the text does not specify whether one must be suffering from a fatal, incurable disease, or simply serious.
The practicing Catholic President of the Republic of Portugal yesterday vetoed the euthanasia law, approved by Parliament on November 5, and asked for clarification on “what appear to be contradictions” in the text.
According to a statement published on the Internet site of the Presidency of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa asked for two details on “questions which only arose in this version of the law”.
“The decree maintains in a standard the requirement of a ‘fatal disease’ for the authorization to anticipate death, which stemmed from the first version of the title. But, this extends, in another standard, to an “incurable disease” even if it is not fatal, and, in yet another, to a “serious disease”, “the statement said.
The President of the Republic adds that he “asks Parliament to specify whether a” fatal disease “is required, or if it is only an” incurable “or” serious “disease.
It also asks the Assembly to indicate the reasons for “a considerable change in the weighting of the values of life and free self-determination”.
“The change which took place, in about nine months, between the first version of the law and the current version, corresponds to a considerable change in the weighting of the values of life and of free self-determination, within the framework of society. Portuguese, ”the statement read.
At the beginning of November, the Portuguese Parliament revised and approved the decree on the legalization of euthanasia, after the unconstitutional veto in March of the President of the Republic on the first version of the decree, approved at the end of January in Parliament. This veto was ratified by the Portuguese Constitutional Court.
Following the approval of parliamentary decree no. 199 / XIV of 5 November 2021, which “regulates the conditions for decriminalizing medical assistance in dying and modifies the Penal Code”, the Portuguese Episcopal Conference (CEP) requested the intervention of the “highest authorities” of the country to stop legislation approved by Parliament.
“In the hope that the highest authorities of the country will take a decision in accordance with the constitutional prerogatives at their disposal, the Church will continue to do everything possible to defend human life and to fight for the growing diffusion of citizen palliative care to which every citizen is entitled to it ”, as we can read in the final communiqué of the 201st Plenary Assembly of the CEP, which was held in Fatima from 8 to 11 November.
Note that the President’s decision comes in a particular context since the Head of State announced his decision to dissolve Parliament and to call early legislative elections on January 30, 2022.
Theoretically, the left-wing majority in parliament could overturn the presidential veto by voting a second time on the same text. But pending new elections, Parliament has limited powers and the decision will rest with the future legislature.