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  • November 2018: Euthanasia bills not approved

Four projects of law on euthanasia – medical assistance in dying, presented to the Portuguese parliament in May 2018, have not been approved. One of them, Project of Law 832/XIII/3.ª, from the Portuguese Socialist Party, failed approval by five votes (for: 110; against: 115; abstention: 4). This project of law intended, in particular, to “modify the 47th amendment to the Penal Code regulating the special circumstances for the practice of non-criminal euthanasia”. The religious communities legally recognized in Portugal have fought these proposals very actively. In addition to many public discussions and demonstrations, they presented for the first time a joint document against medical assistance in dying - Declaration of the Interreligious Religions-Health Working Group. However, despite the defeat, left-wing parties (and in particular, those who came forward with bills on euthanasia) want to re-discuss this issue, and possibly vote, during the next legislature (2019-2023).

  • October 2018: Appointment of the new Bishop of the Armed and Security Forces

On 27 October 2018, Pope Francisco appointed the new bishop of the Armed and Security Forces of Portugal, D. Rui Valério, age 53, succeeding D. Manuel Linda, who became Bishop of Porto (after the death of the former Bishop D. António Francisco dos Santos).
The military ordinariate has under its jurisdiction all the military faithful as well as those in the service of the armed forces, such as the security forces, i.e. the National Republican Guard and the Public Security Police.
The religious assistance service to the armed forces and security forces was regulated in 2009, following the Concordat signed in 2004 between Portugal and the Holy See, comprising the central chaplaincy and the religious assistance centres of the army. The central chaplaincy is an inter-religious body incorporated into the religious assistance service of the armed forces and security, which ensures “the regular operation of the assistance” and includes in its composition a principal chaplain, for each professed confession, who coordinates their religious assistance.

For more information: Moniz, Jorge Botelho (2017), “Military chaplaincy”.

  • February 2018: Euthanasia

Since 2015, Portuguese civil society and political parties have been discussing the issue of euthanasia – medical assistance in dying. Recently, a project of law has raised this issue once more (see Biolaw and the intimate, euthanasia). Project 773/XIII/3.ª – “Defines and regulates the conditions in which the anticipation of death, by decision of the person with final injury or incurable and fatal disease, and which is in during and unbearable suffering, is not punishable” (February 2018). This project of law was presented by Bloco de Esquerda (a Portuguese left-wing political party); it declares that the request for anticipation of death is the “free, serious and enlightened will of a person with final injury or incurable and fatal disease and in lasting and unbearable suffering”.

Whether euthanasia will be subject to a referendum or to the ordinary legislative process is still under discussion today.

  • February 2018: Right to gender self-determination

Project of law 242/XIII– “Recognizes the right to gender self-determination” (May 2017). This project of law, presented by Bloco de Esquerda (a Portuguese left-wing political party) recognizes the right to gender self-determination, namely of transsexual individuals, from the age of sixteen. This bill intends to eliminate the “abusive and threatening requirements” that offend “human dignity” in today’s procedure for the legal recognition of gender.

D 20 December 2018    AHelena Vilaça AJorge Botelho Moniz

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