Two people with non-terminal illnesses die by legal euthanasia

WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:

  • Two people with non-terminal prognoses have ended their lives legally by euthanasia in Colombia last week.
  • Colombia becomes the fourth in the world to allow voluntary euthanasia to end suffering in people who may not otherwise be likely to die soon.
  • Victor Escobar, who suffered from end-stage COPD, became the first person in the country with non-terminal diagnosis to die legally with the assistance of doctors. 

Victor Escobar became the first person in Colombia with a non-terminal illness to die by legally regulated euthanasia on Friday, last week. He was 60 years old.

“We reached the goal for patients like me, who aren’t terminal but degenerative, to win this battle, a battle that opens the doors for the other patients who come after me and who right now want a dignified death,” Escobar said in a video message sent to media by his lawyer Luis Giraldo.

Escobar suffered from end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which greatly diminishes the quality of life, as well as a number of other conditions, Giraldo told Reuters.

The procedure took place in a clinic in Cali, the capital city of Colombia’s Valle del Cauca province.”I’m not saying goodbye, just ‘see you later,'” Escobar said. He had fought for two years for his right to euthanasia in the face of opposition from doctors, clinics and courts. The Constitutional Court last year recognized the procedure should not be available just for the terminally ill.

On Saturday, Martha Sepulveda underwent the procedure in the city of Medellin. DescLAB, a Colombian legal rights advocacy group, supported her case. Sepulveda had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2018. She was due to be euthanized on October 10 last year, but the procedure was halted at the 11th hour.

Colombia’s Constitutional Court removed penalties for euthanasia under certain circumstances in 1997 and ordered the procedure to be regulated in 2014.

The country’s new policy makes it the fourth in the world, after Belgium, Canada, and the Netherlands, to permit voluntary euthanasia to end suffering in people who may not otherwise be likely to die soon.

The first person in Colombia with a terminal illness to die under those rules was in 2015. As of October 15 last year, 178 people with terminal illnesses had been legally euthanized in Colombia since 2015, according to DescLAB.

Source: NBC News

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