Canceled euthanasia: Martha Sepúlveda was ready to die on Sunday

QCOLOMBIA – 51-year-old Martha Sepúlveda, diagnosed with ALS, had been slated to become the first person in Colombia without a terminal prognosis to die via legally permitted euthanasia.

Martha Sepúlveda’s family calls the decision ‘disrespectful’ and ‘illegal’. “They did everything in secret”.

But the procedure planned for 7 am, Sunday, October 10, was canceled after a medical committee decided that she no longer satisfied the requirements because her health had apparently improved.

Until this year, euthanasia had been legally available in Colombia to individuals with a life expectancy of half a year or less.

While ALS is a deadly disease without a cure, it advances at different rates and people can live for years or even decades.

Colombia’s constitutional court ruled earlier this year that the choice of euthanasia applies not just to the terminally ill, but also to individuals experiencing “intense physical or mental suffering from bodily injury or serious and incurable disease.”

A committee of the Instituto Colombiano del Dolor (Incodol) – Colombian Pain Institute –  said in a statement that they were calling off the planned euthanasia, saying that the woman’s case “does not meet the termination criteria,” according to a report.

Camila Jaramillo, lawyer for Sepúlveda, said the Laboratory of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, has pledged to push back against the decision.

Responding to the news that the woman’s planned euthanasia had been nixed, Colombia’s Ministry of Health said that an individual who does not have a terminal diagnosis cannot be cleared for euthanasia because the constitutional court has not put out its full ruling on the issue.

Legal experts pushed back against this, saying that court rulings take effect immediately.


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