- 17 May 2011 : Draft bill on palliative care and dying with dignity
The Council of Ministers approved on 17 May 2011 a draft bill on palliative care and dying with dignity, which should clarify the rights of terminally ill patients and the obligations of care staff. The law will enshrine the right "to die with dignity, that is to say without pain, when medical science allows". The legislation also recognises the patient’s right to receive the spiritual assistance (s)he desires. The government thereby hopes to make national legislation conform with the existing norm in Andalusia, to ensure equal rights and treatment throughout the territory. Even though most of the rights mentioned had already been implemented by the law on the autonomy of the patient in 2002, several cases had shown the limits of their application.
This law will not however regulate euthanasia or assisted suicide, which remain criminal acts. Although the PSOE had included in its election manifesto of 2004 the creation of a parliamentary committee on this subject, the relevant debate did not take place and no action will therefore be taken until the end of Mr Zapatero’s current term of office in 2012.
NB : The draft makes no mention of any possibility for conscientious objection by health care workers, since the intended acts are considered part of good medical practice and to belong to the indisputable rights of the patient.