Colombian Senate Approves Euthanasia Regulation Project with Conscientious Objection Rights
The project to regulate medically assisted death (euthanasia) in Colombia, authored by Senator Humberto de la Calle, has been approved by the First Committee of the Senate with eleven votes in favor and four against.
One of the main articles is conscientious objection, which allows healthcare professionals to refuse to practice euthanasia for moral and ethical reasons. Senator de la Calle stated that the approval of the project means that, in cases of unbearable pain or terminal illness, individuals can choose to advance the moment of their death through the consent of doctors and in compliance with the law, as an expression of freedom and personal consent.
However, the bill does not extend this right of conscientious objection to institutions. The proposal for collective conscientious objection was denied. This implies that assistance centers, even those founded on religious principles, would not be able to refuse to carry out the procedure on grounds of conscientious objection.
Procedure Approval: The Role of Treating Physicians
Senator Carlos Fernando Motoa, a supporter of the initiative, argued that the acceptance of euthanasia should be in the hands of the treating physician. He believes that this would ensure informed consent and the impartiality of the decision. According to him, only a healthcare professional who is familiar with the case can guarantee impartiality and a conscious exercise of will.
The passage of this bill is not the end of the journey towards the legalization of euthanasia in Colombia. The bill has to pass eight debates as part of its legislative process. The next step in this process will be in the Senate Plenary. It’s worth noting that this move towards legalization comes after years of debate, reflecting the changing attitudes towards euthanasia and the right to a dignified death.
Colombia’s Euthanasia Law: 157 Procedures Carried Out Since 2015
In Colombia, euthanasia was decriminalized in 1997, but it only became law in 2015. Since then, 157 euthanasia procedures have been carried out. The Ministry of Health in Colombia has established guidelines to regulate the right to a dignified death.
These guidelines state that the patient must have a terminal illness, believe that their life is no longer worth living due to the disease, and provide clear, informed, complete, and precise consent. The assistance in dying must be provided by a medical professional authorized by a scientific-interdisciplinary committee. However, Colombia also recognizes freedom of conscience, allowing doctors to refuse to perform the procedure if it conflicts with their personal beliefs.
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