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Nursing chief claims Portugal “already practises euthanasia” in state hospitals

The head of Portugal’s national nursing association has caused a major storm by telling national radio that doctors in the State’s health service have taken part in assisted suicides for terminally ill patients even though euthanasia is still considered a crime here.

Ana Rita Cavaco’s comments come as over 7000 people have signed a petition calling for euthanasia to be made legal. The subject is due to be debated in parliament, with left-wingers all for relaxing current laws.

But Cavaco’s assertions, on Rádio Renascença, have now prompted Socialist health minister Adalberto Campos Ferreira to order an “urgent inquiry” as Portugal’s Ordem dos Médicos (doctors’ association) calls them “extremely serious”.

Cavaco, however, stressed during the Em Nome de Lei (in the name of the law) broadcast that she is “not shocking anyone” with her claims and that “anyone listening who works in the state national health service knows these things happen”.

“We know this exists and it exists under wraps, so it is important to talk about it openly”, she said.

When her female interviewer said: “What you are saying is that euthanasia is practised in state hospitals”, Cavaco added: “But it is not just me saying it publicly. There are other public figures that have already admitted it”.

It is time to accept, she said, that certain things that may not be legalised do go ahead.

Cavaco’s calm delivery was interrupted by the presenter as other figures on the panel reacted with clearly-visible surprise – but her assertions were first hand.

“I have seen situations personally”, she explained. “I don’t need to look for other examples”.

Doctors have suggested, she said, the administering of insulin to terminally-ill patients.

With news channels now buzzing with the repercussions, RTP news reports that the doctors association’s concern centres on the fact that doctors and nurses have been involved in the “alleged practice that covers the crimes of homicide”.

With Cavaco now dodging further questions (according to Público) the doctors association has released a tough statement saying her declarations “cannot pass with the levity with which they were proffered as they are defamatory and attack the dignity of doctors and nurses”.

The association went as far to suggest Cavaco’s words were “a very serious violation of the Statute and Code of the order of nurses”, adds Público.

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