Portuguese President has vetoed a bill to legalise euthanasia, claiming the conditions for permitting the procedure were too vague and possibly too radical.
“The bill, in one clause, says permission for anticipated death requires a ‘fatal disease’ … but widens it elsewhere to ‘incurable disease’ even if this is not fatal, and only ‘serious disease’ in another clause,” Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa wrote on Monday.
If the criteria for legalised euthanasia has fallen below a fatal disease, the president asked if the draft law “represents a vision that is more radical and drastic than the dominant view in Portuguese society?”
Supporters of legalisation had been eager to vote through the bill in November as they fear the parliamentary arithmetic could tilt the other way after an early election, scheduled for January 30, called after the minority Socialist government suffered a defeat last month on a key budget vote.
Although pushed by the Socialist Party and the radical Left Bloc, the issue cut across the left-right divide.
The Portuguese Communist Party was firmly against decriminalising euthanasia, while the pro-business Liberal Initiative party voted in favour.
The two largest parties gave their lawmakers a free vote: A handful of Socialists voted against, while centre-right opposition leader Rui Rio voted in favour, against the vast majority of his Social Democratic Party.