The Supreme Court of Ecuador has overturned the laws against euthanasia and instructed legislators and healthcare authorities to establish guidelines for its practice.
Ecuador’s Constitutional Court made a ruling after a terminally ill woman with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) filed a lawsuit requesting the right to die with dignity.
In several countries, including Belgium, Canada, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Spain, euthanasia, the use of drugs by doctors to end the lives of terminally ill patients, is legal. Colombia was previously the only country in Latin America to decriminalize this practice. The topic is currently being discussed in Chile.
Some places, like certain states in the U.S., allow assisted suicide. This means that patients are given a deadly drug and drink it themselves, usually under the direction of a doctor.
The Court stated that the matter at hand concerns the rights to live with dignity and freely develop one’s personality. After careful examination, the Court determined that there may be exceptions to the inviolability of life in order to safeguard other rights.
Paola Roldán filed a lawsuit in Ecuador in August 2023, contending that the right to die with dignity should be granted to individuals who have endured or are currently suffering from severe or incurable illnesses. Roldán believes that these individuals should have the freedom and choice to end their lives in order to alleviate intense physical or emotional pain and suffering.
In 2020, Roldán, who is 42 years old, began showing signs of ALS, a condition that causes muscle weakness and hinders physical abilities.
“Today has been a very special moment for me,” Roldán told reporters with difficulty. She then thanked the court for “betting on solidarity, autonomy, freedom and dignity.”
According to the ruling on Wednesday, legislators and administrators have a maximum of 12 months to create the required guidelines and protocols in order to carry out the decision.
The court approved Roldán’s petition for a prompt authorization to terminate her life, as long as a medical professional conducts the process and she provides clear, voluntary, and well-informed consent either personally or through a designated representative if she is unable to do so.
As part of the ruling, it was also stipulated that she must endure severe pain from a severe and permanent physical injury or an untreatable medical condition.
According to Farith Simon, a lawyer representing Roldán, the court’s decision allows anyone to benefit from the ruling as long as they meet the necessary requirements.
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