With the new law legalizing euthanasia, Portugal joins a handful of countries that allow medically assisted dying. The Portuguese parliament on Friday passed a bill that aims to legalize euthanasia for people suffering with terminal illnesses. The bill which was first introduced three years ago, was approved on Friday after four previous failed attempts.

What the Bill Allows

Under the new law, people over 18 years of age will be allowed assistance in dying in cases where they are suffering from an incurable disease. The new law only allows euthanasia for people who are mentally fit to to make the decision and are suffering "lasting" and "unbearable" pain. Supreme Court's Euthanasia Verdict: Here are 5 Different Types of Euthanasia You didn't Know About.

Only citizens and legal residents fall under the purview of the law which does not extend to foreigners coming to Portugal seeking assisted death. In the last three years the bill was passed by parliament four times but faced stiff opposition from conservative President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

On the fifth attempt, the bill was cleared with a majority of 129 votes to 81. "We are confirming a law that has already been approved several times by a huge majority," said pro-euthanasia Socialist MP Isabel Moreira.

Debate on Assisted Death Far From Over

With the passing of the new law, Portugal joins a small number of countries that allow euthanasia. Most EU countries carry severe jail sentences for active euthanasia. Euthanasia has been a subject of debate in Portugal which has a high proportion of Catholics. Supreme Court Legalises Passive Euthanasia: Did you know Mercy Killing is Legal in These Countries?.

The bill was passed with the support of the ruling Socialists when the opposition had demanded a referendum among citizens. Critics of euthanasia still hope the opposition will ask the constitutional court to look into the bill.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on May 13, 2023 09:40 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).