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Martha Sepúlveda suffers from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Photo: Capture from Caracol Televisión Special
Martha Sepúlveda suffers from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Photo: Capture from Caracol Televisión Special

Euthanasia canceled for woman in Colombia

Martha Sepulveda was going to die last Saturday, Oct. 9, but her assisted death procedure was canceled.

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Last Sunday, Oct. 10, Colombian Martha Liria Sepulveda was ready to die. She was the first person in the country who had been approved for an assisted death procedure with euthanasia without suffering a terminal illness. However, a day before the procedure, the Colombian Institute of Pain informed that it had reconsidered her case and canceled it.
 
According to information from the Interdisciplinary Scientific Committee for the Right to Die with Dignity, after a meeting held on Friday, Oct. 8 analyzed a broad and sufficient manner the patient's request to be assisted with euthanasia, it concluded that in this case, "the terminality criterion is not met, as it had been considered in the first committee."
 
Lucas Correa, Sepúlveda's lawyer, described the decision as "illegitimate, illegal and arbitrary," and accused those responsible of violating the patient's right to die with dignity.
 
"They are forcing her to live a life that she is not willing to continue living, with suffering and pain that she judges incompatible with her idea of dignity," he said.
 
Sepúlveda was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a serious and incurable disease that turned her life into a torment since she was diagnosed, as told by her family in a Caracol Televisión special. 
 
"With lateral sclerosis in the state I have it, the best thing that can happen to me is that I go to rest," she said on national television.
 
In Colombia, euthanasia was decriminalized in 1997, and only became law in 2015. Since then, 157 procedures have been performed.
 
Other countries where euthanasia is legal
With the exception of Colombia, where there are still many legal and technical loopholes for its use, direct euthanasia is prohibited in all Latin American countries.
 
Outside Latin America, there are six other countries in the world where the practice is legal.
 
The Netherlands: It was the first place in the world to approve active euthanasia in April 2002, after several judicial decisions were made that paved the way for the legislation.
Belgium: A little more than a month after the approval in the Netherlands, Belgium also legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Canada: In this country, euthanasia is called "medical assistance in dying," and was legalized along with assisted suicide in June 2016.
New Zealand: The country became the first in the world to put euthanasia up for a referendum, alongside the general election ballot at the end of 2020. A majority of voters supported the measure.
Luxembourg: Luxembourg's parliament approved the legalization of euthanasia in March 2009. Years later, it was also the first country in the world to approve euthanasia for children under the age of 12 in cases of terminal illness.
Spain: After a vote in Parliament with 202 votes in favor, in March of this year, the country joined the list of places where it is legal to practice euthanasia. With the measure, Spain became the first country with a Catholic tradition to approve legislation guaranteeing terminal patients access to both euthanasia and euthanasia.
 
In the United States 

In the country, the practice of assisted suicide is legal in eleven states: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Washington D.C. 

In the United States, euthanasia, where doctors apply the drug to cause the patient's death, is illegal, but in states where assisted death is approved, the patient takes the substance at the time and in the place of his or her choice.

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