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MPs in Italy back a new law that would legalise a form of euthanasia

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By Euronews
A total of 253 lawmakers voted in favour of the law on Thursday.
A total of 253 lawmakers voted in favour of the law on Thursday.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, Pool

Italy has moved a step closer to legalising a form of euthanasia.

MPs voted in favour of a new law -- by 253 votes to 117 with one abstention -- that would allow "voluntary medically assisted death" for ill patients.

The proposed bill would make assisted suicide legal for patients who suffer from an irreversible illness with an "unfortunate prognosis" that causes "absolutely intolerable physical and psychological suffering".

They must also have undergone a palliative treatment process and be maintained alive only with medical treatments.

The law will only allow these patients to end their life with medication under the approved assistance of medical personnel. They must also be of legal age, show capacity of understanding and be adequately informed.

Under Italian law, anyone who helps a person commit suicide faces between five and 12 years in prison.

The new bill follows a ruling from Italy's Constitutional Court in 2019, which said that certain forms of euthanasia should not be illegal.

The court said that assisted suicide would be allowed for terminally ill patients who were suffering from "unbearable" physical or psychological pain and were being kept alive by machines.

The case concerned an activist and former MEP, who had been convicted for helping a quadriplegic citizen die in Switzerland.

But judges had blocked an attempt to hold a referendum on voluntary euthanasia in February and instead that Italian MPs should decide on the matter.

The proposed legislation will now go to Italy's Senate for a vote before it can be passed into law.

Additional sources • ANSA, EFE