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who can request it, how it works and in which cases it can be requested

Posted: Friday June 25 2021 1:00 PM

This Friday, the law that regulates euthanasia in Spain finally came into force. He did so after the approval last December of the said norm in the Congress of Deputies by 198 votes for and against the rejection of the right-wing and far-right parties, who came to accuse the government of wanting to “kill the weakest” and who were quick to present appeals when he had already become emotional.

Precisely, the vice-president of the platform for the Right to Die with Dignity responded to these trainings. “I understand that each group stands up for their beliefs – in this case your life is not yours, but is in the hands of God – it’s legitimate. But it doesn’t seem right to do it with lies,” has criticized Fernando Marín, who, together with members of the association and supporters of the standard, met in front of the Congress of Deputies to celebrate its entry into force.

“The state has an obligation to protect life, but it cannot force you to live against your will,” added Marín. But what is euthanasia and how is it different from assisted suicide? To try to understand this question, it is necessary to know how to distinguish these terms, to know in which cases it can be requested, how the patient should act and how long the process takes.

Differences from assisted suicide

In the case of euthanasia, it is the qualified personnel of a medical center who are responsible for initiating the process, administering the drug that causes death. In this sense, it should be noted that this is a voluntary, studied and consensual intervention which accelerates the discharge of a patient suffering from an incurable and incurable disease. Faced with this situation, a specific healthcare team has the capacity to provide the patient with medication in order to avoid suffering and pain.

On the contrary, we can only speak of assisted suicide when it is only the patient who self-administers the medication that another person has given him. That is to say that the doctor is responsible for prescribing to the patient the formula that he must introduce into his body to end his life, although he may be accompanied and guided by a professional or by any person who wish. The act has no legal consequences.

In which cases can it be requested?

First, the person who needs it must have a serious and incurable disease or a serious, chronic and disabling condition certified by a medical consultant. This is the literal meaning of the articles of the law. However, in his preamble, he explains that the process “takes place in the context of suffering due to an incurable disease or condition which the person experiences as unacceptable and which could not be alleviated by other means”.

The applicant, major, must have the nationality or the Spanish residence, which must be accredited with a stay in the country of more than 12 months. This person should be “capable and conscientious” at the time of making the request, with all the information in writing, and be familiar with alternatives to euthanasia, such as palliative care.

How many times does the patient have to consent?

The patient must consent four times to continue the process and in each of them he can go back. First of all, you need to apply for it. 15 days after the first request, and after having been informed by your doctor responsible for the alternatives and the diagnosis, you must reapply.

Two days later, the doctor meets with the patient again to remove any doubts and, the next day, the third confirmation of progress must be produced. The patient signs informed consent. After the doctor has presented himself to the Guarantee and Evaluation Commission and received a verification from this body, the patient chooses the modality of his intervention and the fourth consent takes place here.

How long does this process take?

After the first request, fifteen days must elapse until the next one. Two days after the second, the doctor meets the patient and 24 hours later the third confirmation must take place. The responsible physician must consult another physician who will study the patient and draw up a report within a maximum of ten days.

The responsible doctor will send it to the Guarantee Commission within a maximum period of 3 days. In total, the process can take a little over a month, between four and six weeks. However, the law provides that in the event that the patient is not going to endure that long, these periods can be shortened.

Can doctors refuse?

Article 16 of the law provides for conscientious objection by healthcare professionals not to practice euthanasia or assisted suicide: “Healthcare professionals directly involved in assisted dying can exercise their right to object. of conscience.

“The rejection or refusal to perform the aforementioned service for reasons of conscience is an individual decision of the healthcare professional directly involved in its performance, which must be indicated in advance and in writing,” the letter said. In administrations, a register of professional conscientious objectors will also be created, which will be confidential and subject to data protection regulations.

In which countries is euthanasia regulated?

In the case of euthanasia, it is only regulated by law in four countries in addition to Spain: Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and Canada. The most advanced laws are those of the Netherlands and Belgium. The big difference between the Spanish standard and the Dutch or Belgian standard is the control of the process. While in these two countries it is carried out at the end, in ours a commission was set up before euthanasia and another after.

Assisted suicide is only allowed in Switzerland. And this is the option that Jordi Rodríguez has chosen. His son-in-law, Joan Alquézar, explained on laSexta how the assisted suicide process went: “He sat on a sofa. His two daughters were by his side, they gave him the medicine and in 30 seconds Jordi is dead, happy. ” Euthanasia is not legal in Switzerland, but assisted suicide is legal, even for people who do not reside in this country. A practice that is also permitted in Germany, one state in Australia and nine in the United States.

What are the key names in the debate?

The most important case was that of the 1990s, that of Ramón Sampedro, a Galician sailor who spent 30 years in bed after suffering an accident that left him quadriplegic at the age of 25. The most recent, that of Ángel Hernández, who was arrested in Madrid in April 2019 for having committed an assisted suicide at the family home, María José Carrasco, who is terminally ill with multiple sclerosis, a disease she suffered for three decades. .

Hernández admitted to the police that he had provided his wife with a substance to kill her, in accordance with his wishes. Carrasco had expressed to her husband “many times” his desire to die; Since being diagnosed with the disease at the age of 32, he has depended on the care of his partner, who gave him morphine to ease the pain.

The couple recorded it on video. They wanted to attract the attention of legislators, to move towards positions less opposed to euthanasia to prevent someone who needs it from having to follow the same paths as them.

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