Martha Sepúlveda, the nurse with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), would this Sunday be the first Colombian woman without terminal illness to be euthanized, after the procedure was decriminalized by the country’s Constitutional Court in July, but assisted death was suspended by a medical committee, in a decision announced to the patient hours before.
The Interdisciplinary Scientific Committee, which belongs to the Instituto Colombiano del Dolor, where Martha was being accompanied, published the statement with its decision at 17:00 on Saturday in Colombia (midnight in Lisbon), and the procedure was scheduled for 7:00. on Sunday (13h from Lisbon).
The institute justified the cancellation “because it has an up-to-date concept of the patient’s health status and evolution”, stressing, in the statement cited by El País, that it was “defined that the criterion of terminality was not met”.
The decision cites resolution 971 of 2021 of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, which “assigns the committee, within its functions, to review the application process and the complete euthanasia procedure, in order to detect any situation that affects its development.”
The setback comes after the Colombian Catholic Church issued a statement asking the patient to suspend the procedure. It should be noted that Colombia is a secular state and euthanasia has been decriminalized since 1997.
Although not a case of terminal illness, the 51-year-old nurse lost part of her movements, unable to walk, go to the bathroom or even eat without assistance. “With lateral sclerosis at the stage it’s in, the best thing that can happen to me is to go rest,” Martha said in an interview when the decision was announced.
The decision to be euthanized was supported by his 22-year-old son. “She doesn’t want to be bedridden. Not being able to speak, not being able to swallow. It’s painful and undignified. In early 2021, my mother started to lose strength in her legs, she needed support even to walk around the house, to go to her room. bath,” Federico told the BBC.
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