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Spain is set to approve a law legalising euthanasia, allowing people with 'serious and incurable' diseases that cause 'unbearable suffering' to end their lives.
Spanish parliament is set to give final approval for the law today (18 March), before it comes into effect in June.
The new legislation will allow both euthanasia, in which medical staff deliberately end a life to help prevent suffering, and assisted suicide, in which the patient is the one to their own life.
There will be strict conditions that must be met before a patient can choose to end their life, including being a Spanish national or legal resident and being 'fully aware and conscious' when they request the procedure.
The request to end their life must be submitted twice, 15 days apart and must be approved by a second medic and an evaluation body.
Requests can be turned down if they do not meet the criteria set out.
Speaking in December when the bill was approved by Spain's lower house of parliament, Health Minister Salvador Illa said: "It is an important day for all citizens because we are moving towards a more humane and just society.
"But above all, it is an important day for those people who are in a situation of serious suffering, and it is also important for their families and people close to them."
Right-to-die campaigner Sofia Malagon, who has Parkinson's, welcomed the move.
She told AFP: "It doesn't make any sense that people... would choose to live an undignified life.
"I don't want to be left like a vegetable."
A 2019 opinion poll found that almost 90 percent of Spanish residents are in favour of decriminalising euthanasia.
However, not everyone backs the decision.
The Catholic church has condemned the move, with the Episcopal Conference, which groups Spain's leading bishops, saying euthanasia is 'always a form of murder since it involves one man causing the death of another'.
Santiago Abascal, leader of the far-right Vox party which voted against the legislation in Decemer, saying: "The euthanasia law is a defeat for civilisation and a victory for the culture of death, for those who believe that some lives are more worthy than others."
Until now, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are the only EU countries that currently allow euthanasia.
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