Bill to regulate euthanasia passes 1st Congressional vote in Colombia

A bill to regulate euthanasia in Colombia on Tuesday passed its first Congressional vote by 10 votes to four.

A commission of Colombian Congress approved the first debate of euthanasia regulation in the country which was passed August 15 years after it was decriminalized.

President of Colombia’s Congress Roy Barreras, said at a debate in the plenary of the Senate, that euthanasia should be passive and should not be assisted suicide.

Barreras who is a doctor, said that passive euthanasia, where the patient is disconnected from machines like respirators which are supporting life, is preferable to assisted suicide where a third party is involved in helping the patient to die.

However the Congress president said that “the project is good and necessary,” and that he would not attempt to sink the debates as they search modification of the regulations regarding euthanasia.

Senator Armando Benedetti pointed out that the initiative sought to “give authority to the patient to request euthanasia where the conditions of life are not dignified, or that their families can decide if the person is not conscious.”

The initiative includes a clause for the request of euthanasia by prior instruction that consists of a document signed before a notary when the person is of sound mind, or in cases of serious illness without cure, or brain injury that has left the patient in a state of unconsciousness.

This petition is valid if it is elaborated and confirmed for the patient for at least five years before the loss of capacity to express their will.

Euthanasia “is legal in Colombia and we want to regulate it because life should be enjoyed, it is not only the act of breathing, and when someone has a terminal illness and life has deteriorated, they have the right to euthanasia,” said Benedetti.

Benedetti said that only people over 18-years who suffer from terminal illness with intense pain, and without cure, could decide if they would submit to the procedure of euthanasia.

“Catholics, among whom I count myself, are not obliged in the case of terminal and serious illness, to apply euthanasia if their beliefs don’t allow it,” said the senator.

Benedetti added that the procedure “is a free decision, and according with medical practice. No case should rest with family or others. Only with the terminally ill person.”

In this way, said the senator, doctors who practice euthanasia would be “in no case penalized” if they comply with the established regulations.

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