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Ecuador, ninth nation worldwide in legalizing euthanasia

Quito, Feb 11 (Prensa Latina) Ecuador is today the ninth country around the world to decriminalize euthanasia, after the Constitutional Court (CC) issued a favorable ruling for its legalization.

The CC’s ruling responded to a lawsuit filed by Ecuadorian Paola Roldán, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a catastrophic, degenerative and incurable disease that has destroyed the nerve cells controlling muscles that execute voluntary movements.

Euthanasia is also legal in Spain (2021), Colombia (2014), New Zealand (2021), Portugal (2023), the Netherlands (2002), Canada (2016), Luxembourg (2009) and Belgium (2022).

In the Court’s ruling, issued past Wednesday, the CC pointed out that the right to life, understood as subsistence, is inviolable.

However, in the analyzed case, the conduct of a physician would not be arbitrary and illegitimate but would respond to the request of the holder of the legal right or his legal representative.

Likewise, the CC stressed that the physician who performs the conduct should not be sanctioned, provided that the person expresses his unequivocal, free and informed consent and the request responds to a condition of intense suffering resulting from a serious and irreversible bodily injury or a serious and incurable disease.

The Court also ruled that within two months, the Ministry of Public Health must prepare a regulation for euthanasia processes, the Ombudsman’s Office has six months to present a bill to regulate it and the National Assembly has 12 months to approve the regulation.

In August 2023, Paola Roldán and her lawyers asked for the unconstitutionality of article 144 of the Organic Integral Penal Code (COIP), which sets forth the crime of homicide and punishes with imprisonment of between 10 and 13 years for those who commit it.

“I have lived a full life and I know that the only thing I deserve is a death with dignity,” Roldan said last November 20 from her bed and assisted by an artificial respirator.

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