President of the Republic vetoes Euthanasia decree for unconstitutionality

This decision was announced through a note on the official website of the Presidency of the Republic

The President of the Republic today vetoed, as unconstitutional, the parliamentary decree that decriminalizes the anticipation of medically assisted death, as required by the Constitution, following the decision of the Constitutional Court.

This decision was announced through a note on the official website of the Presidency of the Republic on the Internet after the Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional some of the norms of this diploma submitted for preventive inspection by the head of state, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

“Having the Constitutional Court ruled today that the precepts of the new version of the decree of the Assembly of the Republic on medically assisted death are unconstitutional, the President of the Republic will once again return the diploma to the Assembly of the Republic, without promulgation, under the terms of article 279, number 1, of the Constitution, as soon as the judgment of that court is published in the Diário da República”, reads the note.

The Constitution determines that, in the face of a declaration of unconstitutionality by the Constitutional Court, the diploma must be vetoed by the President of the Republic and returned, in this case, to parliament, which may reformulate it by purging the content deemed unconstitutional or confirm it by a majority of two thirds.

In view of the Constitutional Court's decision, the PS has already expressed its readiness to correct the wording of the decree, as has the Liberal Initiative.

The Constitutional Court's decision was taken by a majority of seven judges, including the president, João Pedro Caupers, with the remaining six voting unsuccessfully.

The decree in question, which regulates the conditions under which medically assisted death is no longer punishable, amending the Penal Code, was approved in parliament in a final global vote on December 09, with votes in favor of the majority of PS deputies, of the benches of the Liberal Initiative and BE, six PSD deputies and the sole deputies of PAN and Livre.

Voting against were 58 PSD deputies, the benches of Chega and PCP and six deputies of the PS. And three PSD and one PS deputies abstained.

According to data provided by parliamentary services, a total of 210 deputies were present in this plenary vote, of which 125 voted in favour, 81 against and four abstained.

Under the terms of the decree, “a non-punishable medically assisted death is considered to be that which occurs by decision of the person, of age, whose will is current and reiterated, serious, free and clear, in a situation of suffering of great intensity, with definitive damage to extreme severity or serious and incurable disease, when practiced or helped by health professionals”.

This was the third decree approved by parliament to decriminalize medically assisted death in a period of about two years.

The first was also declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court, in March 2021, following a request for preventive inspection by the President of the Republic, due to insufficient normative densification.

In November of the same year, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa used the political veto in relation to the second parliamentary decree on this matter, as it contained contradictory expressions.