Judge orders Martha Sepúlveda to be euthanized

Judge orders Martha Sepúlveda to be euthanized
Judge orders Martha Sepúlveda to be euthanized

Colombia: judge orders Martha Sepúlveda to be euthanized 0:50

(CNN Español) — A Medellín judge ordered the Colombian Institute of Pain (Incodol) to euthanize Martha Sepúlveda, a procedure that had been canceled – after being initially authorized – days after a television report on the case.

Indocol is an institution providing health services, or IPS.

Sepúlveda suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a serious, incurable and degenerative disease, for which he has already received the available medical treatments and palliative care.

The first instance ruling of the 20th court of Medellín, sent to CNN by Sepúlveda’s lawyer, indicates that Indocol “has violated Mrs. Martha Liria Sepúlveda Campo” and orders her to “comply with the provisions of the Interdisciplinary Scientific Committee to die with dignity , in the minutes issued on August 6 of this year, “which stated that Sepúlveda meets” the requirements to exercise his right to die with dignity through euthanasia. “

The ruling says Indocol has 48 hours to agree with Martha Sepúlveda “the day and time when the euthanasia procedure will be carried out.”

The ruling can be challenged in three days.

The case of Martha Sepúlveda: a euthanasia canceled at the last minute

Martha Sepúlveda, 51, appeared in a television report at the beginning of October announcing that she was authorized to euthanize her without being a terminal patient to avoid suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), an unprecedented event in Colombia. Sepúlveda was to die of his own free will on October 10 at 7 a.m. local time.

But 36 hours before his death, Incodol, based in Medellín, informed Sepúlveda that the procedure was not going to occur. Incodol said in a statement that it reviewed the situation and established that she does not meet the “termination criteria as considered in the first committee.” He said that Sepúlveda “has a high probability of life expectancy greater than 6 months” and that is why he canceled the procedure.

Reasons for canceling euthanasia of a patient with ALS 1:43

Sepúlveda’s defense and family say that his right to a dignified death was violated, that they did not request a second committee. Meanwhile in the country there is a controversy over the cancellation of euthanasia, as many believe that they denied the possibility of avoiding suffering for women. Others, in a deeply Catholic country, say that the only one to take life must be God.

As Federico Redondo Sepúlveda, Martha Sepúlveda’s son, told CNN, his mother returned to her previous state of “hopelessness, sadness, and anxiety about her future, because they took away the security they had given her (with euthanasia) of power. have a worthy end of life “.

After the Noticias Caracol report, Martha’s story went viral and a few days later, when various media reported on the history of the decision, Incodol’s announcement came from the second committee that neither Sepúlveda nor her family requested.

“It is still very particular that all these circumstances and arbitrary actions on the part of the IPS have taken place just after the news went viral,” said Rondón Sepúlveda.

“In addition, in the minutes of the committee that decided the cancellation of the procedure, what is cited is the news event. They say no, that in the news they saw a change in my mother’s conditions, that is, not a personal assessment. My Mom does not know the members of the committee, they did not communicate with her, “he added.

Euthanasia in Colombia

In Colombia, euthanasia has been decriminalized since 1997. It can be applied, according to the criteria of that time, as long as it is a terminal illness, that there is intense pain, that the procedure is requested voluntarily and that it is performed by a specialist.

But a new ruling of the Constitutional Court of July

(through euthanasia) for patients suffering from a serious and incurable illness or injury causing severe suffering. And under this sentence Sepúlveda requested euthanasia, according to his son.

“[Antes] Euthanasia was allowed but when the patient was terminally ill, with great suffering due to physical injuries or an incurable disease and that they had him in a terminal state, “former Supreme Court Justice Jaime Arrubla told CNN.

“The change is that he is not required to be in a terminal state, it is enough that he has serious illnesses due to his illness or injury to proceed with the process,” Arrubla added.

According to data from the Ministry of Health, between 2015 and August 31 in Colombia, 157 euthanasia procedures have been performed; in 2015: 4; in 2016: 7; in 2017: 16; in 2018: 24; in 2019: 44; in 2020: 36, and until August 31, 26 procedures.

Euthanasia in Colombia: what you need to know 2:57

The first euthanasia of a non-terminal patient

Martha Sepúlveda would be the first person in Colombia with a non-terminal diagnosis to receive euthanasia.

Currently, according to his son, Sepúlveda “can only take a few steps with considerable support … his hands do not give him, he does not have enough strength to lean on a cane or any other means”. It requires support to wash, to go to the bathroom, to eat and even to brush.

“That is the most critical point: that of the indignity of not being able to fully decide on it, but to depend on this in all matters, however minimal, on other people,” says the son. “In addition to the physical pain that the disease brings, it is the psychological (pain) that this situation brings.”

Although the decision was initially hard for his family, his son, who described himself as “a defender of freedom” of expression and of people’s self-determination, said that going through this is very hard, but he decided to support his mother.

“All those close to my mother were in denial at first,” said Rondón Sepúlveda. “I was very much a defender of freedom and of the ability to speak about people, until it was my turn to experience such a situation.”

“After a few days and after seeing the suffering, the pain, the indignity in which my mother was living, I decided to support her because I couldn’t leave her alone either,” he told CNN.

With information from Melissa Velásquez

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