Since the beginning of the year, the bill has been going back and forth - the parliament approves, the President of the Republic rejects and the bill goes back to the Parliament for reconsideration. Now, the parliament once again will have to reschedule a new debate to amend the criminal code aiming to allow euthanasia in specific situations.

On 29 November, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa published on the website of the Presidency of the Republic the grounds for the second rejection. According to him, there were changes “between the first version of the bill and the current version, which corresponded to a considerable change in the weighting of the values ​​of life and self-determination, in the context of Portuguese society”, the note reads.

That’s possible in Portuguese politics system because when the parliament approves a bill, the President has to agree. Otherwise, he can reject it according to his own views or forward to the Constitutional Court when he thinks that the bill is not in accordance with Portuguese fundamental law - that's what he did last time.

Eight months ago, on 15 March, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa rejected the previous bill on this matter, after the Constitutional Court declared that the parliament would have to change the article nº2 due to "insufficient normative density".

The request to review the constitutionality of the bill had been made in February, in which the president argued that the concepts of "intolerable suffering" and "damage of extreme severity according to scientific consensus" used in the previous bill were "highly indeterminate". Indeed, the Court Constitutional agreed with the second point, which forced parliament to change the bill.

The parliament taking into account the decision of the Constitutional Court changed some of those points and approved a new version on 5 November.

However, according to the president, the last bill that was reapproved by parliament not only changes the points that the Constitutional Court requested, but also takes the opportunity to withdraw the requirement of fatal illness, thus expanding the euthanasia for cases of severe or incurable illnesses. This solution was pointed out by Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa as drastic and radical.

If parliament reapproves the bill that allows euthanasia for patients within this new legal framework, without the requirement of fatality, "it departs from the understanding of countries such as Colombia, Canada and some states of the USA", said Marcelo. On the other hand, it gets closer to the point of view of some of the European countries where euthanasia is already allowed – Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium.

All in all, for a final result, Portugal will have to wait until next year. Legislative elections are scheduled for 30 January, and only after that will parliament be able to reconsider the matter.