Spain's euthanasia debate: 'If I see my family suffer, I want the right to die'

Lola (left) wants to have the right to choose to die
Lola (left) wants to have the right to choose to die Copyright Euronews
By Laura Llach
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As Spain debates euthanasia, the sick ask to be heard: "If I'm making my family suffer because I have no strength left in my body, I want to die. I want to have that right"


Lola Dorado cannot walk without the help of a walking frame, has physical limitations and needs a respirator. 

But still, she can talk, and for this, she considers herself fortunate. 

She has the privilege, as she calls it, of having a relatively slow evolution of motor neurone disease, a degenerative illness that causes the paralysis of the muscles in the body. Only 10% of patients have this atypical variation that extends life expectancy up to ten years.

Despite the huge impact of the diagnosis, Lola tries to enjoy every day. "There are those who cannot speak, laugh or hug," she told Euronews. She can still do all these things, but she is clear: "Right now I have a quality of life, I can keep moving, but when I can't move more than my eyes I don't know if I will feel like living."

Spain's politicians are hotly debating a law that would allow and regulates euthanasia. Meanwhile, the sick ask to be heard. 

“If there comes a time when I can move my eyes and transmit strength and enthusiasm I will do so, but if I am making my family suffer because I am depressed and without strength, I want to die. And I want to have that right and that freedom with the law passed,” said Lola.

If there's a point where the only thing I can move are my eyes and I'm making my family suffer because I have no strength left in my body, I want to die. I want to have that right and that freedom with the law passed.
Lola Dorado

It is the third time Spain's congress has been divided over the bill, with the difference this time being that the process went ahead with 201 votes in favour and 104 against. What the wording of the text establishes is that the patient may end their own life, in the event that they suffer an unbearable physical or psychological pain, with no hope of improvement, even if they do not face imminent death.

The latest survey shows that 70% of doctors are in favour of euthanasia being legalised. Lola recalls that this discussion should not be a division between the right and the left: “I think these issues do not have to be politicised. Both positions should be respected. ”

“Although I am Catholic, I do not share the opinion of the Church. We must not suffer, we have come to live. If I think of someone who is psychologically suffering so much that they do not want to continue living, I am nobody to tell them to continue living. They have the right to choose, ” she adds.

"I will continue fighting until I have strength in the voice to say that we have the right to a decent life, with more health resources, and to be able to decide whether we want to live or not."

Portugal: final stretch to legalise euthanasia

Neighbouring Portugal has been debating euthanasia recently, and on Thursday, politicians approved a bill to decriminalise. In a previous vote in 2018, which narrowly defeated the bill, the main detractors were both the centre-right formations and the Communist Party. However, in the current Parliament, the numbers were there to pass the bill.

According to a survey prepared by the Egaz Moniz University Institute, 50.5% of the Portuguese would be in favour of euthanasia, while 25.6% would be against it. The Portuguese Catholic Church, one of the main actors against the passage of the law, is pressing for the measure to be voted on in a referendum with the aim of curbing the legislative process. Portuguese law establishes that a popular consultation is only valid if 50% of the census participates, something that is not very common.

The abortion law was also submitted at the time to several referendums and in both cases the participation did not reach the necessary 50%.

Despite protests outside parliament in the capital Lisbon yesterday, the approval of the bill opens the door to the next phase – in which a special commission will discuss the final bill that will be presented to the President.

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