Spain has passed a law to legalise euthanasia, becoming the fourth country in Europe to allow people to end their own life in certain circumstances.
Supporters had long campaigned for the “right to die in peace”.
The Spanish law will allow someone to end their own life, with or without qualified medical assistance, if they are suffering from a “serious or incurable illness” or a “chronic or incapacitating” condition that causes “intolerable suffering”.
Before the law’s passage, helping somebody to die in Spain was potentially punishable by a jail term of up to 10 years.
“Today we have become a country that is more humane, fairer and freer,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted just minutes after the vote. “The euthanasia law, widely demanded by society, has finally become a reality.”
The passage of the law was celebrated by right-to-die campaigners, but condemned by conservative and religious groups.
Portugal’s parliament had attempted to take the same step, but this week legislation that sought to legalise euthanasia was rejected as unconstitutional by the country’s top court.
Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Canada and Colombia are the only other countries in which euthanasia is currently legal.
Outside parliament, groups for and against the bill demonstrated during the debate and the vote.
“Today is an important day: we are heading towards the recognition of human rights. We are heading towards a more humane and fair society,” Health Minister Carolina Darias told parliament.
Danel Aser Lorente, 45, whose mother had Alzheimer’s and was denied the right to end her own life, was pleased with the outcome, saying, “From today, we Spaniards will be able to sleep easier, feeling a bit more free.”