Spain's new socialist government has launched another bid to legalise euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide in the country.
Despite previous election results preventing the PSOE's attempts to the change the law, parliament voted on Tuesday in favour of further consideration of its draft euthanasia bill by 201 votes to 140.
It means that the bill will now be passed to the congressional Health Committee for further negotiations, then head to the Senate before finally returning to the lower house for a final vote.
It will be the third time that the bill has been considered by parliament, however many feel that it is only a matter of time that it is approved including Health Minister Salvador Illa who feels that the bill could secure final passage by June this year.
Since 1997, left-wing parties have tried on a number of occasions to pass similar bills to facilitate assisted-suicide.
In a Twitter post the Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez urged politicians to act quickly and accept the new bill.
He said, "We have been working on the euthanasia law for years and today we begin the process for approval. We know that there are many people waiting and that there is no time to lose. Spain must take this step. Let us recognize the right to a dignified death.”
The move would mean that Spain would become the fourth European country to adopt the law along with Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Other countries including Switzerland and some states in the U.S already allow assisted suicide - where a patient administers a legal drug themselves under medical supervision.
Portugal’s parliament where there is also a socialist government, will also debate proposals on euthanasia and assisted-suicide later this month.
Doctor-assisted suicide and euthanasia are currently illegal in Spain and carry a sentence of up to eight years in prison.
Despite consensus for the bill in parliament, there are many who still oppose the move including conservative PP (Popular Party) politicians and those from the far-right Vox party who opposed the new bill.
The Church are also opposed to the draft bill with the Spanish Bishops’ website stating that euthanasia “is always a kind of murder”, proposing improvements to palliative care as the way forward.
Once written into law, any patient with an incurable condition would have to wait no longer than a month for the procedure to begin after requesting it. However, the request would first have to be approved by a number of doctors with the request ultimately being put to a committee for final assessment.
Any doctor unwilling to be involved in the procedure would be able to opt-out as a ‘conscientious objector’.