Saeima rejects initiative on euthanasia legalization

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On Thursday, March 25 after a long debate, the Saeima rejected the “For Good Death” initiative, which called for the legalization of euthanasia in the event of terminal diseases.

49 members voted in favor of rejection, 38 against, two abstained.

At the beginning of February, the public initiative portal collected the necessary 10,000 signatures on an initiative to legalize euthanasia in Latvia.

Previously, the citizens' initiative on euthanasia legalization was rejected by the Saeima Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Commission after an expert committee of four religious leaders and two health experts was heard.

On Thursday, several members saw such a public initiative as a call for help, which seeks to draw politicians' attention to the shortcomings in palliative care and anesthetics.

Saeima deputy Artuss Kaimiņš said that, in his view, euthanasia is “at least seven or eight further development steps forward” in the case of Latvia. He believes that a number of improvements have yet to be made to palliative care and diagnostic medicine, so that MPs can decide further on legalizing euthanasia.

A similar opinion was expressed by the parliamentarian Ilmārs Dūrītis (Development/For!), explaining that such an initiative encourages politicians to think about the conditions under which severely ill people depart from life. He considered that such an initiative would contribute to development in palliative care, but he said that “today we are not prepared to introduce an active euthanasia process, because we cannot provide adequate conditions for people who have come into such a situation”.

Meanwhile, opposition MP Viktors Valainis (Union of Greens and Farmers) said euthanasia would be the easiest way for severely ill people to escape intolerable pain, yet it is “absolutely unacceptable” because it ignores a number of problems in palliative care. At the same time, the Member stated that he was prepared to do everything necessary to improve the medical sector in the country.

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