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Colombia allows assisted suicide for the sick

Euthanasia has already been legal in the country since 1997.

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This is a first in Latin America. Colombia’s Constitutional Court has authorized drug-assisted suicide for patients under the supervision of a doctor, according to a judgment released to the press on Thursday (May 12th). “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”ruled the court.

By a vote of six judges against three, the Court thus repealed an article of the penal code punishing from 12 to 36 months any person providing assistance to suicide, and “preventing a physician from providing necessary assistance to a person who, in the exercise of personal autonomy, chooses to (…) die with dignity”.

“Using advances in altruistic science”

Colombia, where euthanasia has already been legal since 1997, thus becomes the first country in Latin America to authorize assisted suicide for patients suffering from a serious or incurable disease: the patient will now be able to administer a lethal product, under the supervision of a doctor who no longer risks any penalty.

“The doctor is the one who has the best technical, scientific and ethical tools to guarantee the safeguard of human dignity in this procedure”the court said. “The advances of science must be used in an altruistic and supportive way towards those who are in an extreme state of health and who desire a dignified death”she concluded.

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