MEXICO CITY Mexico's Senate began discussing the legalisation of euthanasia on Thursday, adding to a spate of liberal moves in the country that includes the sanctioning of gay civil unions and abortion.
The bill's sponsor said it would permit the terminally ill to go off medical treatment and end prosecution of doctors who follow patients' wishes in ending medical care that keeps them alive.
"We want to give everyone the right to a dignified death because death is the last human freedom," said Sen. Lazaro Mazon, a surgeon.
Mazon said he had enough support for approval and expected a vote within two weeks. The measure would then have to be approved by Congress and signed by Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
Calderon, a conservative, is an outspoken member of the Catholic Church, which has staged protests against recent leftist moves, including the capital's proposed legalisation of abortion and gay civil ceremonies there and in a northern border state.
But Mazon said he had heard encouraging indications from senators in the president's party and believed Calderon would follow their lead.
Mexico currently demands lengthy jail time for anyone who aids patients in ending their lives, no matter how sick. Under the proposed law, active euthanasia, including lethal injections, would remain illegal.