The Colombian legislature has once again failed to pass a law legalising euthanasia. The bill which was proposed in September 2020 needed to reach 85 votes in favour, but fell three votes short.
Although 82 votes were held to open the discussion of the presentation and its articulation, as it was a statutory law it required a majority of 85 votes in favour. This automatically archives the initiative.
The weekly newsletter BioEdge reported the reactions of supporters and opponents of the right to die in Colombia.
Representative Juan Fernando Reyes Kuri (Liberal Party), who proposed the bill, says that he understands that some of his colleagues in this majority Catholic country are opposed for religious or ethical reasons of their own, “but we cannot allow them to continue imposing their beliefs on everyone”.
Another politician supporting a right-to-die law, Senator Armando Benedetti, argues that euthanasia already exists in Colombia; it only needs to be regulated: “Why should those who do not believe in God be limited in their desire to stop living in the face of so much suffering?” From their point of view, legislative deadlock creates uncertainty for doctors. Few are willing to offer euthanasia because, technically, it is still illegal. “There is still legal insecurity for people who decide to access this procedure and for the doctors who carry it out,” says Reyes Kuri.
Opponents give the 1997 ruling a different twist. Angela Sanchez, a representative in the legislature, says that the Court declared that the right to a dignified life implies dying with dignity – which is why Colombia needs more support for palliative care. Edwin Arias, representative of Radical Change: “The 1997 judgment does not say that we have to regulate euthanasia, but to regulate the right to die with dignity, and this Congress has been doing so, that is why I remind you, by the Law 1733 of 2014, the palliative care law. And there are other alternatives such as palliative care, comprehensive pain care. That’s what you have to offer a terminal patient,”
In the end, the Court’s call continues to be postponed over time until Congress decides to regulate the matter. And there are those who remain willing to insist on the issue. Like Reyes Kuri himself and other parliamentarians convinced that this is the way to do it.