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Colombia on its way to a law

Although euthanasia is for many years allowed and regulated in Colombia, it never came to a law. Till now: a new bill is introduced and discussed in Parliament. End September the first debate on this new bill to regulate euthanasia has taken place. 

Since 1998, 12 bills have been presented in the country directly related to the regulation of the right to die with dignity. The last one was presented last year by Reyes and the representative José Daniel López but was shelved. López told EL TIEMPO that he hopes that this time it will be approved. “This project tries to generate rules of the game for application under objective and standardized conditions, since there have been many cases where people find it difficult to access this right.”

Criteria for application of the bill

The requirements to request euthanasia are the following:

– The applicant must be over 18 years of age.
– The applicant must present intolerable suffering caused by a terminal illness or advanced incurable disease. 
– The requesting person must have mental competence to express the request and give their consent to carry out the euthanasia procedure. 
– Consent must be free, unequivocal, informed and repeated. 
– Only a medical professional may perform euthanasia. 

Procedure of euthanasia

First, the person who is within the aforementioned conditions may request euthanasia before the treating physician. In the event that the person decides to continue with the process,  compliance with the requirements will be established through the necessary specialized evaluations,  including care related to receiving palliative care, in a term not exceeding 10 days. After that, the doctor who received the request will inform the Scientific-Interdisciplinary Committee to Die with dignity that these have been completed so that they can start their verification process. The Committee must meet, once and it has received the notification of a request for euthanasia to start the follow-up of this, having completed the assessment of establishment of requirements, it will meet to verify the requirements and inform the applicant of its decision. “The actions of the Committee will take place in the same (10) ten days established for the processing of the request,” says the project. The next step is that the committee will ask the person to reiterate the request and if the answer is positive and will proceed to schedule the procedure in a time not exceeding fifteen days, taking into account the interest and will of the person.

Legal situation now
In 1997 euthanasia is decriminalised by a Court judgment, and since 2015 Colombia has a Resolution about euthanasia. According to the Ministry of Health, in Colombia there have been 92 euthanasias reported to this entity for oncological and non-oncological diseases, in adults, between 2015 and March 2020. In 2018 the possibility of euthanasia became also accesible for children.