Every day, the correspondents’ club describes how the same current event is illustrated in two countries.

Protesters hold a banner “my life is mine” during a march in Madrid on March 18, 2021, in favor of a law legalizing euthanasia. (AFP)

The Citizens’ Convention on the end of life was launched on Friday 9 December. Participants must submit their proposals to the government next March for a possible evolution of the current law. These citizens drawn by lot will focus in particular on the provisions in force in neighboring countries.

The Swiss criminal code speaks indirectly of assisted suicide since 1942

Swiss criminal law states that you cannot help someone to commit suicide if you are motivated by a selfish motive such as the prospect of receiving money. And the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences requires in particular that people be in full possession of their intellectual faculties before ending their lives. They must administer the barbiturate alone but they are systematically accompanied by suicide assistance associations.

Assisted suicide is widely accepted by the Swiss but it is still regularly debated. The country also authorizes assisted suicide for people who experience extreme suffering, without being at the end of their life. This divides doctors. There is also the question of Alzheimer’s patients. Some resort to assisted suicide as soon as symptoms appear because they fear they will no longer have the right to do so later. The subject is difficult and Switzerland has not yet found all the answers.

Spain legalized euthanasia in 2021

The debates in the Spanish Parliament were very tense before the adoption of this law legalizing euthanasia. But they were much less virulent outside the political sphere. Before being adopted, this law received the support of 80% of Spaniards according to a survey by the Center for Sociological Research.

This law authorizing euthanasia presents several safeguards. This possibility is reserved for people who suffer from “a serious and incurable disease” which causes them “intolerable suffering”. The patient must reside in Spain for one year, request euthanasia in writing, twice, 15 days apart. Then, confirm his wishes twice more during an interview with his doctor who must inform him of the alternatives, submit to the study of a commission who can refuse. Since the law came into force, some 180 people have had recourse to euthanasia in Spain.