Colombia euthanasia: Man becomes first person with non-terminal illness to die by legal means

“We have reached the goal of patients like me, who are not in an early stage but are deteriorating, to win this fight, a battle that opens doors for other patients who come after me and who now want a dignified death,” Escobar, 60, said in a video message Giraldo sent to the media.

On Saturday, a second Colombian woman – a woman with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease – was also murdered.

Giraldo told Reuters that Escobar suffered from late-stage COPD, which led to a significant decline in quality of life, as well as a number of other conditions.

The operation was performed in a clinic in Cali, the capital of the province of Valle del Cauca in Colombia.

“I’m not saying goodbye,” said Escobar, “just ‘see you later’.”

Escobar fought for two years for his right to euthanasia in the face of opposition from doctors, clinics and courts, even though the Constitutional Court ruled last year that the procedure should not be available only to terminally ill patients.

On Saturday, Martha Sepulveda underwent the operation in Medellin at noon; Desklab – which has supported her case – said in a statement.

Sepulveda – who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2018 – was due to be discharged on October 10 last year, but the procedure was called off at the 11th.

The Constitutional Court of Colombia overturned the penalties for euthanasia under certain circumstances in 1997 and ordered the procedure to be regulated in 2014. The first person in Colombia to suffer a terminal illness to die under these rules was in 2015.

As of October 15 last year, 178 people with deadly diseases have been legally murdered in Colombia since 2015, according to Colombian legal rights advocacy group DescLAB.


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