Portugal considers allowing euthanasia, assisted suicide

Source: Associated Press

By BARRY HATTON

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — After legalizing abortion and same-sex marriage in recent times, Portuguese lawmakers will decide Tuesday on another issue that has brought a confrontation between faith and politics in this predominantly Catholic country: whether to allow euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide.

The outcome of the vote is uncertain and is likely to be close, but Portugal could become one of just a handful of countries in the world to permit euthanasia under certain circumstances.

Euthanasia — when a doctor kills patients at their request — is legal in Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. In Switzerland, and some U.S. states, assisted suicide — where patients administer the lethal drug themselves, under medical supervision — is permitted.

A series of left-leaning governments determined to bring about what they call a “modernization” of the country, as well as the Catholic Church’s waning influence, have opened the door to deep cultural changes in Portugal. That trend has included permitting abortion on demand in 2007 and same-sex marriage three years later.

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