Colombia's Constitutional Court Wednesday ruled by 6 votes to 3 to decriminalize medically assisted suicide. Euthanasia in Colombia is already legal, but in this case, it is the patient and not the doctor who executes the action to end his or her life.
The court's decision was issued in a lawsuit filed by the Laboratory of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (DescLAB). The case had been admitted by the Court on Sept. 1, 2021, to review a section in Colombia's Penal Code that establishes penalties of between 32 and 108 months of imprisonment to whoever effectively induces another to suicide, or provides effective assistance for its realization.
When the inducement or aid is aimed at putting an end to intense suffering resulting from bodily injury or serious and incurable illness, a prison term of 16 to 36 months will be incurred, adds the article challenged.
DescLab explained that its goal was to make sure that whenever a medical professional provides assistance to another person to end his or her life under certain conditions, he or she will not receive criminal punishment.
Unlike euthanasia, where a medical professional is the one who causes the person's death, the medical professional provides through medically assisted suicide an aid or assistance for the person to be the one who causes his or her death, DescLab also pointed out.
Both euthanasia and medically assisted suicide have the same purpose, to cause the death of a person who meets the legal requirements. The difference is the role of the physician and who ends up causing the death, it added.
Victor Escobar, aged 60, who suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes and hypertension, became the first Colombian to receive euthanasia without being a terminal patient.
(Read also: https://en.mercopress.com/2022/01/10/first-non-terminal-patient-dies-through-euthanasia-in-colombia )
Colombia was the first country in Latin America to decriminalize euthanasia and is one of the few in the world where it is legal in the case of terminal illness when the patient suffers great pain, requests it voluntarily and it is performed by a licensed physician.
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