Non-Terminal Colombian Woman Denied Euthanasia Despite New Law Making It Legal

Martha Sepúlveda hails from a majority-Catholic country that decriminalised euthanasia in 1997.

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In Bogota, Colombia, Martha Sepúlveda's euthanasia that would have made her the first patient in Colombia not suffering from a terminal illness to die legally, was blocked by the Colombian Pain Institute (CPI), reported The Washington Post.

Sepúlveda, who is 51 years old, is suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

Euthanasia was decriminalised in Colombia (a majority-Catholic country) in 1997, and earlier this year, the right to die legally was extended, by a constitutional court, to include not only patients with terminal diseases, but also those with "intense physical or mental suffering, from bodily injury or serious and incurable illness," AFP reported.

The CPI ruled that Sepúlveda's medical condition had improved between July to October and that her present condition did not "completely affect the functionality of the patient in instrumental activities or daily life as the patient and her family had expressed in previous medical records", therefore failing to meet the criteria for her to die via euthanasia.

Her lawyer, Camila Jaramillo, criticised the decision, calling it “illegitimate and arbitrary,” and that it violates Sepúlveda’s right to a “dignified death.”

Sepúlveda is a devout Catholic herself, but she didn't see her decision as a contradiction with respect to her beliefs.

"I believe in a God who doesn't want to see me like this," she was quoted as saying by USA Today.

Colombia is one of the few countries that have legalised active euthanasia, along with Canada, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, New Zealand, and numerous states and territories in Australia.

(With inputs from The Washington Post, AFP, and USA Today.)

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Topics:  Colombia   Euthanasia 

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