A draft law on end-of-life care that will allow people with incurable diseases to "die with dignity" with be approved in March 2011 by Spain's socialist government, the deputy prime minister said.
The law will spell out the rights of patients facing death and their families and the medical staff who care for them so they can "die without suffering", Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba told reporters after a cabinet meeting.
"Simply put, when someone is in a terminal phase, that means they are clinically condemned, that there is no solution and what they are facing is a calvary before dying," he added.
"In these cases medicine has tools to ensure that the death, which is inevitable, takes place with dignity, that is to say without suffering."
The law will be based on existing legislation in place in other European nations, the minister said.
"It will have nothing to do with euthanasia, which is the decision taken by someone and for their own reasons, and because they are sick, to die," he added.
Euthanasia is illegal in Spain but the law allows a sick person who is in control of their mental faculties to refuse treatment.