Friday, October 16, 2020

Spain Bioethics Committee Unanimously rejects euthanasia

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The CNA News Agency reported on October 13 that The Bioethics Committee of Spain (CBE) unanimously rejected the underlying principles behind the euthanasia and assisted suicide bill that is making its way through the Congress of Deputies, the lower house of the legislature. 

The CNA reported:
The 12-member CBE, which is responsible for issuing reports on matters with relevant bioethical implications, unanimously reached the decision to advise the government that the proposed euthanasia law is not valid from an ethical point of view.

"There are solid health, ethical, legal, economic and social reasons to reject the transformation of euthanasia into a subjective right and a public benefit," the Oct. 6 CBE report states.

The bill is invalid not only because it decriminalizes euthanasia as an exception to the general rule requiring life to be protected, but also because it recognizes death as a right that can be incorporated into the list of public health benefits, the committee noted.

The CBE pointed out that “a person’s desire for a third party or the state itself to end his life, directly or indirectly, in those cases of great physical and/or mental suffering, must always be viewed with compassion and met with effective compassionate action leading to the prevention of pain and a peaceful death.”

"Legalizing euthanasia and/or assisted suicide entails setting out on a path toward the devaluation of the protection of human life whose boundaries are very difficult to foresee, as the experience of our circumstances shows us.”

The committee stressed that “euthanasia and/or assisted suicide are not signs of progress but rather a regression of civilization, since in a context in which the value of human life is often conditioned by criteria of social utility, economic interests, family responsibilities and the burden to the public or public spending, the legalization of early death would add a new set of problems.”

The CBE called for "the comprehensive and compassionate protection of life, creating protocols, in the context of good medical practice, with the use of palliative sedation in the face of specific cases of unremitting existential suffering ... along with making effective palliative care universally available.”

That, the committee underscored, should be the "path to take immediately, and not to proclaim a right to end one's life through a public benefit," especially after the coronavirus pandemic in which "thousands of our elderly have died in circumstances far removed from what is not only a decent life, but also a minimally dignified death.”
On February 11, the Spanish parliament voted 203 to 140 (2 abstained) to continue debating a bill to legalize euthanasia. That debate continued on September 10, 2020.

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