This June 25, the Organic Law for the regulation of Euthanasia , approved in March in the Congress of Deputies,
comes into force in Spain , and which establishes that this practice can be carried out on patients who request it and that are in certain situations, making Spain one of the six countries in which assisted suicide is legal.
But, what does the new regulation imply, to whom exactly is it addressed and what is the procedure
We explain the main keys of the new law.
What is euthanasia
As the preamble of the law indicates, euthanasia “etymologically means a good deathand it can be defined as the deliberate act of ending the life of a person”, by express will of the interested party and “with the aim of avoiding suffering”. The “provision of aid to die – as it is called in the text – consists of providing the necessary means to a person who meets the established requirements and who has expressed his desire to die”.
These means consist of a substance that causes death and that could be managed by ahealth professional or self-administered with medical supervision in a health center, public or private, or at the patient’s home.
What requirements must be met
Those who have Spanish nationality, residency or a registration certificate of more than 12 months, are of legal age and “are capable and aware” when they make the request, may receive aid in dying. Likewise, they must suffer from a “ serious and incurable illness ”, which the text defines as one that causes constant and intolerable physical or mental suffering and with a limited life expectancy.
And patients with a ” serious, chronic or disabling condition will also be recognized.””, understanding by this “limitations that directly affect physical autonomy and activities of daily life”, that do not allow the person to fend for themselves and affect their “capacity for expression and relationship” and that are associated with “a suffering physical or psychological constant and intolerable for those who suffer from it”.
How will the procedure be
The person who wishes to be helped to die must submit two requests in writing, separated by 15 days. Once the “responsible doctor” receives the first request, within a maximum period of two calendar days, he will carry out with the applicant “a deliberative process on his diagnosis, therapeutic possibilities and expected results, as well as on possible palliative care .””, information that will also be provided in writing, within a maximum period of five calendar days.
The deliberative process will be repeated when the second request is received and in the event that the applicant wishes to continue with the process, the responsible physician must inform the “care team” as well as, if the patient so requests, the relatives who he pointed
Next, the doctor must consult a second professional, the ” medical consultant” , who must confirm compliance with the requirements within 10 calendar days and write a report. In the event that this is unfavorable, the patient may resort to the Guarantee and Evaluation Commission, which will be created in each autonomy and which will do both a prior and subsequent control to ensure that the conditions are met. In total, the law states that between the initial request and the practice of euthanasia, around 35 days will pass , although the period may be shortened.
How is euthanasia applied
Only with the positive resolution of the Guarantee Commission can the patient be euthanized “with the utmost care and professionalism”. In the event that the patient is conscious, he or she will be able to communicate to the health personnel the modality in which they want to receive euthanasia. Afterwards, the responsible doctor must accompany the person until the moment of death, if it is carried out in a health center, and maintaining the “due task of observation and support” until death if it is carried out at home. And it will be considered a natural death for all purposes .
And can disabled people request it
Yes, the rule provides that the request be submitted by another person of legal age in the case of those who lack sufficient understanding or capacity. To do this, the request must be accompanied by a prior instruction document, living will or equivalent document, which must be fulfilled by the responsible doctor.
Will it have to be paid
No, the benefit is “included in the common portfolio of services of the National Health System and will be publicly financed ”. In addition, it is detailed that the public health services must apply the precise measures to guarantee this right to all people who meet the requirements established in the standard.
Can a doctor refuse to apply euthanasia
Yes, the right to conscientious objection
is recognized , communicating it in writing and in advance. With this information, the health administrations will create a register of objecting health professionals. Although, the norm indicates that the access and the quality of care of euthanasia cannot be “impaired” by the right to conscientious objection.