MADRID – The Spanish Congress of Deputies, the lower chamber in the parliament, on Thursday approved a bill to legalize euthanasia.

People who protest against a law to legalise euthanasia as Spanish Parliament prepares to vote on it, hold placards with skulls outside the Spanish Parliament in Madrid, Spain, December 17, 2020. REUTERS/Susana Vera

The bill, allowing euthanasia in “a context of a chronic and disabling condition or serious illness or incurable, causing intolerable suffering,” was passed with 198 votes in favor, 138 against and two abstentions.

According to the bill, in order to be able to request euthanasia, a person needs “Spanish nationality or legal residence in Spain or registration certificate that proves a time of stay in Spanish territory more than 12 months, be of legal age and be capable and aware” of what they are doing.

People who want to end their lives will have to request euthanasia twice in writing, with 15 days between requests, while making it clear they are not subject to external pressure.

The application and authorization process is expected to take around 40 days. When the permission is received, “the provision of aid to die will be carried out in a public, private or subsidized health center or at the applicant’s home.”

Defending the bill in Congress, Health Minister Salvador Illa said that “as a society, we cannot remain impassive in the face of the intolerable suffering suffered by many people; Spain is a democratic society that is mature enough to face this issue.”