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LISBON, Portugal (ChurchMilitant.com) - Portugal's parliament knocked down euthanasia and assisted suicide in a string of narrow votes.
Left-wing politicians introduced four proposed plans for legalizing euthanasia to the Assembly of the Portuguese Republic (Assembleia de Republica Portuguesa), the country's parliamentary body.
The four bills were all put up for a vote on Tuesday. The Portuguese parliament rejected all four by very small margins.
The Portuguese bills were similar to one another in a general sense, differing mainly in nuances.
But there was also variance when it came to the party affiliations of the bills' respective authors. The left-of-center Socialist Party, the more radical Left Bloc, the Ecological Party (nicknamed "The Greens") and the People, Animals, Nature party sponsored one bill each.
Parliament voted down all four bills on Tuesday.
The leftist-backed bills sought to legalize euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Euthanasia is when a doctor administers a lethal pill or injection to a patient with the patient's consent. Physician-assisted suicide is when a patient obtains a lethal pill or injection from a doctor, but the patient is responsible for actually administering it.
The euthanasia bill that came closest to passing was proposed by the Socialist Party — Portugal's left-of-center ruling party. For that bill, 110 voted in favor, 115 voted against and four abstained.
Even 116 votes in favor would have been a parliamentary majority, passing the bill. If that had happened, there was a slim chance that socialist President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa would have vetoed his own party's legislation.
Thus, only six votes were stood between Portugal's parliament and legalizing euthanasia.
Growing advocacy in Portugal for the "right to die" is being interpreted as a sign of "the Catholic Church's waning influence" on everyday life in the country.
In 2016, a pro-euthanasia petition in Portugal garnered more than 8,000 signatures. But a few months later, a pro-life, anti-euthanasia response petition got about 14,000 signatures. The pro-life petition was the work of Portuguese Federation for Life.
Before the voting on Tuesday, Portugal's parliament had three hours of oral debate.
Opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide came from both sides of the political spectrum. The left-wing Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) stood against the euthanasia bills, as did the conservative Christian Democrats.
Speaking for the Christian Democrats, MP Isabel Galriça Neto warned that legalizing euthanasia would encourage the "trivialization of death" and a "culture of assisted death."
Representing the PCP, Member of Parliament António Filipe agreed with Neto, saying, "The slippery slope is an undeniable fact."
The communist MP went on to argue, "The undeniable duty of the State is to mobilize technical and scientific advances to ensure an increase in life expectancy, and not to shorten it."
Of the 230 members of Portugal's parliament, only one was absent from Tuesday's vote, attending to foreign relations matters in China.
Portugal, a traditionally Catholic country, is the site of the world-famous Fatima apparitions, Our Lady appearing to three shepherd children in 1917 with a series of messages urging repentance and conversion, as well as daily praying of the Rosary.