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Portuguese President orders constitutional review of euthanasia law

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Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in Lisbon, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021
Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in Lisbon, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Armando Franca
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Portugal’s president on Thursday asked the country’s Constitutional Court to evaluate a recent law passed by parliament that allows euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill and gravely injured people.

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said in a statement the legislation appears "excessively imprecise," potentially creating a situation of "legal uncertainty."

Lawmakers three weeks ago approved by a significant majority the final wording of the bill, following almost a year of discussions to detail administrative procedures and other aspects of the procedures.

The bill then went to the head of state, who had to decide whether to approve the law, veto it or send it to the Constitutional Court for review.

Rebelo de Sousa said the bill also raises a series of questions about the constitutionality of "such a complex and controversial issue."

Portugal’s Constitution says that human life is "sacrosanct," though abortion has been legal in the country since 2007.

Parliament can override a presidential veto by voting a second time for approval.

Euthanasia is when a doctor directly administers fatal drugs to a patient, while medically-assisted suicide is when patients administer the lethal drug themselves, under medical supervision.

Several other European Union nations allow euthanasia and assisted suicide.