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Portugal's parliament rejects euthanasia, doctor-assisted suicide

The deeply divisive issue is the latest point of friction between faith and politics in the predominantly Catholic country.
by Associated Press /  / Updated 
Image: Euthanasia vote
A protest against euthanasia in Lisbon, Portugal, on Tuesday.Rafael Marchante / Reuters

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LISBON, Portugal — A proposal to make Portugal one of only a handful of countries allowing euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide was narrowly rejected by lawmakers Tuesday.

After a landmark debate, lawmakers voted to reject four broadly similar bills introduced by left-leaning parties. The bill that came closest to succeeding was the work of the governing Socialist Party, which failed on a 115-110 vote with four abstentions.

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.

The country's two main parties, the Socialists and the main opposition Social Democratic Party, allowed their lawmakers to vote according to their conscience.

Euthanasia was forced onto the political agenda by a public petition urging its introduction in 2016.

The deeply divisive issue is the latest point of friction between faith and politics in this predominantly Catholic country.

Prodded by a series of left-leaning governments determined to bring about what they called a “modernization” of the country, the Portuguese parliament has in recent years voted to permit abortion on demand and same-sex marriage.

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