First Colombian with non-terminal illness dies legally by euthanasia

The Colombian Victor Escobar became the first person in the Andean country to die of a non-incurable disease through legally regulated euthanasia, confirmed his lawyer Luis Giraldo.

“We have achieved the goal for patients like me, who are not incurable but degenerative, to win this fight, a fight that will open the doors for the other patients who will come after me and now wish a decent death,” said Escobar, 60, said in a video message Giraldo sent to the media.

A second Colombian woman, Martha Sepulveda, with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, was also euthanized on Saturday.

Escobar suffered from end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which severely affects quality of life, as well as a number of other conditions, Giraldo told Reuters.

The operation took place in a clinic in Cali, the capital of the Colombian province of Valle del Cauca.

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

Escobar had fought for his right to euthanasia for two years against opposition from doctors, clinics and courts, although the Constitutional Court had recognized last year that the procedure should not only be open to the terminally ill.

On Saturday, Sepulveda was subjected to the trial at noon in the city of Medellin, Colombian advocacy group DescLAB – which supported their case – said in a statement.

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Sepulveda was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2018 and was due to be euthanized on October 10th last year before the last-minute procedure was discontinued.

In 1997, the Colombian Constitutional Court lifted the penalties for euthanasia under certain circumstances and ordered the procedure to be regulated in 2014. The first person in Colombia to die of an incurable disease was in 2015 under these rules.

As of October 15 last year, according to DescLAB, 178 people with incurable diseases had been legally euthanized in Colombia since 2015.


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