Europe

Portugal parliament rejects euthanasia decriminalisation

A man holds a sign with a cross struck through the word euthanasia at a demonstration against euthanasia in front of the Portuguese Parliament in Lisbon, Portugal, 29 May 2018 Image copyright EPA
Image caption The parliament's vote on legalising euthanasia is dividing many in the country.

Portugal's parliament has rejected proposals to make euthanasia legal in the country.

In the 230-seat parliament, the bill received 110 votes in favour and 115 votes against. There were four abstentions.

The centre-left Socialist-led government wanted to make the practice legal, but with special conditions.

The country's culture is traditionally Catholic and conservative, and the issue has been extremely divisive.

The proposals pitted left-leaning parties in parliament against the Catholic Church and traditional social order.

Portugal's government is a minority administration, with the Socialist Party backed by the Greens and far-left groups.

One of the government's left-wing allies, the Communists, joined with the conservative CDS-PP to block the legislation.

Prior to the vote, protests were convened by anti-abortion groups in the country's capital, Lisbon.

The anti-abortion protesters - mostly from religious groups and schools - demonstrated in front of the parliament in Lisbon.

They chanted "Yes to life, no to euthanasia!" and waved placards saying "We demand palliative care for ALL" and "Euthanasia is a recipe for elder abuse".

Portuguese journalist Filipe d'Avillez said the numbers at the protests increased as the day went on.

Catarina Martins, the leader of the Left Bloc - which is a government ally in parliament, told the Reuters news agency that although the vote had failed "the issue is now firmly on the political agenda, it is now in detailed debate in society."

Patient-requested euthanasia is legal in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg in the EU.

Outside Europe, the practice is available in Canada, Colombia, and the Australian state of Victoria.

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