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Portuguese lawmakers reject referendum on euthanasia

Published on October 23, 2020

The Portuguese parliament on Friday rejected a proposal for a referendum on euthanasia, paving the way for legislation that could result in decriminalisation.

The parliament in February took a major step towards decriminalising euthanasia when lawmakers voted in favour of the first reading of five proposals aimed at changing the law.

Those are now due to be consolidated into a single draft bill for a final vote which could result in Portugal becoming the fourth European country to legalise the practice after The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

The move was narrowly rejected two years ago but stands a good chance of completing its passage this time round thanks to the parliamentary majority won by the socialists at last October’s election.

Any new bill must then be signed into law by Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, a conservative who has not publicly taken a position on the issue and who has the power of veto.

The Catholic Church, which predominates in Portugal, campaigned against the draft bills both among its faithful and those of other religious denominations.

The Church had been in favour of a referendum in the belief that a majority would reject euthanasia.