LISBON: Portugal's parliament rejected on Tuesday a bill that would have legalised voluntary euthanasia for terminal patients in the Catholic-majority country by a narrow margin, but it secured enough support to ensure continued debate on the issue.
The bill, drafted by the ruling Socialists garnered 110 votes in the 230-seat parliament, but was outvoted by 115 opponents, with 4 abstentions, after a heated debate and a vote that required each lawmaker to declare his or her stance.
Earlier, a few hundred people of all ages - mostly from religious groups and Catholic schools - had protested in front of the parliament building, chanting "Yes to life, no to euthanasia!" and carrying placards "We demand palliative care for ALL", or "Euthanasia is a recipe for elder abuse".
The Socialist bill envisaged legalisation for medically-assisted death based on an informed request by patients suffering profoundly from a serious, incurable illness with no expected improvement in sight, in a terminal state or suffering from widely incapacitating lesion.