LAST December, after Spain’s Socialist and left wing parties entered a coalition, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, above, warned that ‘Spain would cease being Spain’ if Catholicism were to be further sidelined.
Since the death of dictator Franco, a fanatical supporter of the Catholic Church, Spaniards have been abandoning the faith in droves. Today less that 14.4 percent of Spaniards regularly attend mass. In 2010, then Pope Bendict XVI warned of “aggressive anti-clericalism” in the country.
He was particularly miffed that it had introduced gay marriage in 20o5, making Spain then the third country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage, after the Netherlands and Belgium and 17 days ahead of Canada.
In a separate report, LifeSiteNews quoted the cardinal as saying that the coalition will mean not only a decisive political shift, but also an assault on the “meaning of the person and his dignity” that will lead to “abandoning and forgetting God.”
Well, if he was full of trepidation then, he must now be spitting tacks, for yesterday (Tuesday) Spain’s parliament endorsed an effort to legalise euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide.
After early elections twice last year thwarted the Socialist party’s attempts to change the law, parliament voted by 201 votes to 140 in favor of accepting its euthanasia bill for consideration.
It now goes to a parliamentary health committee for discussion and then heads to the Senate before returning to the lower house for a final vote.
There is no fixed timetable for those stages, but Health Minister Salvador Illa said he hoped to see the euthanasia law enacted by June.
That would make Spain just the fourth European Union country – after Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – to allow euthanasia, which is when a doctor kills patients at their request. As well as those countries, assisted suicide –where patients administer the lethal drug themselves, under medical supervision – is also permitted in Switzerland and some US states.Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, above, who became the first Spanish Prime Minister to be sworn into office without a Bible or crucifix, urged politicians to move forward quickly.
We know that many people are waiting, that there is no time to lose.
Both euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide are currently illegal in Spain, and carry prison sentences of up to eight years. Left-wing parties have tried on a dozen occasions since 1997 to pass bills to help facilitate assisted dying.
Last year a 69-year-old Spaniard, Angel Hernandez, was arrested on homicide charges after he helped his terminally ill wife to die. His arrest reignited a debate on euthanasia.
A survey in 2017 showed 84 percent of Spaniards support euthanasia, and the head of a center-right party said four days after Hernandez’s arrest that it would end its opposition to a euthanasia law.
Naturally, the the issue has met resistance from conservative politicians and the Catholic church.
The Spanish Bishops’ Conference says on its website that euthanasia “is always a kind of murder” and proposes improvements to palliative care. That proposal is backed by the conservative Popular Party which, along with far-right party Vox, are the only opposition in parliament to the Socialist party’s proposal.
The proposed law in Spain would apply to people suffering an incurable condition, with the patient waiting no longer than a month for the procedure after requesting it.
The request triggers a consultative process, with the patient’s doctor required to obtain a second opinion from a colleague outside his team. After two weeks, the patient must repeat the initial request, which is then forwarded to a committee for assessment.
A doctor can administer the dose directly or patients can get a prescription and administer it themselves, either at home or at a public or private medical facility.
Doctors unwilling to be involved in the procedure can opt out as conscientious objectors, but a replacement doctor must be found.
The parliament in neighboring Portugal, where Socialists are also in power, will discuss later this month a similar proposal to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide.