The other country where euthanasia for children is legal—Colombia
The long process of legalisation began in 1997
Colombia is not a nation that one associates with end-of-life debates, but it is one of the few which has legalised euthanasia – even for children over 6 years old. Perhaps the issue has flown under the radar because many Colombians are Catholics or Evangelicals for whom euthanasia is anathema.
The process began in 1997 when Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled that ending lives in certain circumstances was not illegal. In Sentencia C-239/97 it stated: “Nothing is more cruel than to force a person to survive in the midst of shameful suffering, in the name of other people’s beliefs.”However, this still left the legal status of assisted suicide and euthanasia in a legal limbo. Activists could not be sure that they would not be prosecuted.
Finally, the Constitutional Court declared in December 2014 that it was legal (Sentencia T-970/14).
And then, in 2017 (Sentencia T-544) the Court ordered the Department of Health and Social Protection to issue regulations which would “guarantee the right to death worthy of children and adolescents”. So on March 9, 2018, the Department of Health and Social Protection issued Resolution 825 which allowed euthanasia for children over 6. The Department explained that before that age children cannot grasp the idea of their own death. However, children between the ages of 7 and 12 are allowed access euthanasia with the approval of their parents. Children between 12 and 14 can access it even if one parent disagrees. After 14, no parental involvement is needed, provided that all the requirements for euthanasia are fulfilled.
Like adults, the child must have an incurable condition, have unmanageable pain and the mental capacity to consent. “Doing this for children is a whole new world,” Ricardo Luque Nunez, a doctor and bioethicist who is an adviser to the Colombian Ministry of Health and oversees this issue, told the Globe and Mail.
According to official records only 40 people have taken advantage of Colombia’s euthanasia regulations. Unofficially, there may be many more. As in other countries, activist doctors who are impatient with red tape take the law into their own hands. One doctor claims that he has “provided euthanasia” to almost 400 people, including more than 30 children.
Colombian voters have had no say in this momentous legal change. “We have not had a big national debate about this, and I’m not very happy about it,” says a former Colombian health minister. “We need a public debate: We are not Belgium or Holland – this is at odds with people’s beliefs and mode of thought.”
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet
This website provides links to a number of international articles and documents pertaining to euthanasia, assisted suicide advance directives, disability rights, pain control and more.
This article by Michael Cook was originally published on MercatorNet under a Creative Commons licence. The original article can be found here.
Euthanasia: False Light
International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (2009) This video looks at euthanasia and assisted suicide through the eyes of five people — three patients, a doctor, and a hospice nurse, all of whom speak from their hearts, not from a script.
The only person that I trusted was my doctor. And to have my doctor walk into the room and say, “I’m going to give you the choice to just end all this right now.”Patient
And it’s a lot easier to push people out of the picture then to actually get involved with them and suffer with them. Which, by the way, is what the word compassion means. It means it means to suffer with. If you kill somebody, there is no ‘with’. You’re not compassionate if somebody’s dead.Doctor