The medical center in Medellin decided this Saturday to cancel the euthanasia Martha CebulvedaA woman with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and goes to training on Sundays. This is the first Colombian to receive the procedure since the Constitutional Court recognized patients with non-fatal diseases in July.
The Colombian Pain Institute (Incodol), which is responsible for the procedure, said in a statement that it had decided to cancel the procedure “with a renewed view of the patient’s health and evolution”, with which it was “defined.”
Colombia was the first country in Latin America to convict euthanasia, and one of the few countries in the legal world, after the Constitutional Court in 1997 consecrated a dignified death as a fundamental right during a serious illness.
The court’s July ruling, which would have changed the criminal law to “euthanasia” and previously punishable by up to 54 months in prison, nullifies the first requirement that the person seeking it must suffer from a fatal disease. The exercise of this right was triggered by existing restrictions in the country.
Although it has been legal since 1997, this right did not begin to be exercised until 2015 and procedures still face restrictions, which are only done in certain cities and many medical centers do not know how to operate.
In addition, Parliament has for many years blocked bills regulating honor killings.
The case of Martha Cebalveda
Sebalveda’s case was announced last month, and in a News Karakol report, he said he would die tomorrow at the age of 51.
“If it had come from the spiritual plane, I would have been completely calm (…) I would have been a coward, but I no longer want to suffer.
Since she was diagnosed, the woman began to lose strength in her legs and found it difficult to walk long distances, which worsened her quality of life.
Controversy in the case
Following the release of the report, Colombia’s Episcopal Conference this week called on Sepalveda to “quietly reflect on his decision.”
“Hopefully (reflection will be given), if circumstances allow, to avoid the harassment of the media who did not hesitate to take his pains and campaign for the euthanasia of his family,” he said. Monsignor Francisco Antonio Cepallos Escobar, Chairman of the Episcopal Commission for the Promotion and Preservation.
For his part, the representative of Chamber Juan Fernando Reyes regretted “for refusing to euthanize Martha Sepalveda.”
“Everyone has the right to die with dignity. The government should not interfere in that decision or anyone. If we want our beliefs and close decisions to be respected, we will begin to respect the beliefs of others,” the Liberal Congressman said.
Euthanasia in Colombia
In the country, only 94 euthanasia procedures have been carried out from April 2015 to May 8, 2020. According to the Ministry of Health, the practice counts cases since it was approved, and in 1997 the court established 18 years after the Constitution established that decent death is a fundamental right.
Most of these procedures were performed in the field of Bogota or Antigovia, and nine out of ten are for people with a cancer-related diagnosis.
In addition, according to official data, for every five requests made in the country, only two end.
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