Bioethics News

Nurse ignites debate over euthanasia in Portugal

The head of Portugal’s national nurses’ association has blown the whistle on covert euthanasia in public hospitals. Ana Rita Cavaco told a radio program that she personally had heard doctors discussing the topic.

She declared on the Catholic station Rádio Renascença, that euthanasia “is sometimes practiced in the health service hospitals, with doctors suggesting this solution for some patients”.

“I have personally witnessed such situations – I don’t need to look for further other examples. I have seen cases where doctors have suggested administering insulin to induce an insulin coma. I am not going to shock anybody as everyone who works in the health service knows these things happen out of sight and sound, so let’s talk about it openly.”

She gave no details, but the mere suggestion was enough for Portugal’s national medical association to demand that she be prosecuted for alleging that doctors were participating in an illegal activity. The association declared that Portuguese should have complete confidence in doctors.

These statements can not be passed over in silence with the swiftness with which they were uttered. They are libellous and undermine the dignity of doctors and nurses, so it must be proven or clearly and formally denied”.

The Health Ministry has ordered an urgent inquiry into the allegations.

The controversy comes at a sensitive time in Portugal as Parliament will probably debate euthanasia later this year, after a high-profile petition secured enough signatures to bring the matter before the legislature. 

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