“The doctor who helps a person in the throes of intense suffering or serious illness and who freely decides to dispose of his own life, acts within the constitutional framework” judged the Constitutional Court of Colombia.
A great first in Latin America: Colombia, where euthanasia has been authorized since 1997, has just authorized, yesterday Thursday, May 12, suicide assisted by a doctor by medication, for people suffering from a serious or incurable disease. .
With six judges for and 3 against the Colombian Constitutional Court repealed an article of the penal code, punishing from 12 to 36 months any person providing assistance to suicide, and preventing a doctor from providing the necessary assistance to a person who, in the exercising personal autonomy, chooses to die with dignity.
According to the court, the doctor is the one who has the best technical, scientific and ethical tools to guarantee the safeguard of human dignity in this procedure.
“Advances in science should be used selflessly and in solidarity with those in extreme health who desire a dignified death,” the court continued.
To be eligible for assisted suicide, the person must be diagnosed with a serious or incurable injury or illness, causing them intense physical or mental pain, deemed incompatible with a dignified life.
“This is a decisive step for our country to consolidate its position as one of the most advanced in the world in terms of the right to die with dignity” declared the research director of Desc LAB, a human rights laboratory economic, social and cultural, Lucas Correa to the Reuters newspaper.
By applying this law, Colombia becomes the first country in Latin America to authorize assisted suicide. However, it still punishes up to 9 years in prison whoever incites or helps to end the life of a person in intense suffering, due to bodily injury or illness, outside the legal framework. that is, without the supervision of a doctor.
In July 2021, Colombia had extended the right to assisted suicide, authorizing it to patients who are not terminally ill, but who nevertheless suffer from intense physical or psychological pain resulting from bodily harm or serious illness. and incurable.
This decision is highly criticized by some movements and organizations of this Catholic country, for example, the Pro-Life movement, criticizes, among other things, the fact that it is a handful of magistrates and not the Congress which decides on subjects sensitive such as abortion, euthanasia or suicide.
Three months ago, this same Constitutional Court had decriminalized abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide is who administers the lethal drug. For assisted suicide, it is the patient who injects the product directly, under the supervision of a doctor, while for euthanasia, it is the medical staff who take care of it.