Portugal votes to allow euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide despite protests

Portugal votes to allow euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide despite protests
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The Portuguese Parliament voted in favor of allowing voluntary euthanasia for terminally ill people on Thursday, despite opposition from protesters and religious groups.

In a series of bills proposed by left-of-center parties in the country, the Parliament approved five right-to-die policies, winning support by majorities of between 28 and 41 votes, according to The Associated Press.

According to the wire service, the country would become one of the few nations in the world allowing voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide procedures. Other nations include Belgium, Canada, Columbia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

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Outside of the Parliament building, protesters reportedly gathered in criticism of the proposed measures. Some protester signs said, "Euthanasia doesn't end suffering, it ends life," while some individuals chanted disapprovingly.

The Catholic faction in the country has advocated against physician-assisted suicide, and they have also called on the country's lawmakers to hold a vote on the subject. However, despite the church's pleas, the government has not acquiesced to the church's request, according to the report.

Currently, those who practice voluntary euthanasia can be punished with prison sentences of up to three years. The procedure is still illegal in the Iberian nation.

The Portuguese president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has being unwilling to support the practice in the past and could veto the new law. However, Parliament could override his veto by voting a second time, according to the AP. 

Some states in the U.S. permit medically-assisted suicide. However, the practice isn't utilized nationwide.