A Colombian woman diagnosed with ALS was slated to die by euthanasia despite not having a terminal prognosis, but the fatal procedure was canceled
Martha Sepúlveda, a 51-year-old Colombian woman diagnosed with ALS, had been slated to become the first individual in that country without a terminal prognosis to die via legally permitted euthanasia. But the procedure planned for 7 a.m. Sunday Oct. 10 was canceled after a medical committee decided that she no longer satisfied the requirements because her health had apparently improved, according to The Washington Post.
Until this year, euthanasia had been legally available in the country to individuals with a life expectancy of half a year or less, according to the Post.
The outlet also noted that while ALS is a deadly disease without a cure, it advances at different rates and people can live for years or even decades.
According to the Post, Colombia’s constitutional court ruled earlier this year that the choice of euthanasia applies not just to the terminally ill, but also to individuals experiencing “intense physical or mental suffering from bodily injury or serious and incurable disease.”
A committee of the Colombian Pain Institute (Incodol) said in a statement that they were calling off the planned euthanasia, saying that the woman’s case “does not meet the termination criteria,” according to a report.
Camila Jaramillo is a lawyer for Sepúlveda, and Jaramillo’s law firm, the Laboratory of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, has pledged to push back against the decision, according to the Post.
Here’s more from the Post:
The Colombian Institute of Pain, or Incodol, which had been scheduled to carry out the procedure on Sunday, said Sepúlveda’s condition had improved between July and October, and that affected an earlier decision to allow her euthanasia procedure to proceed.
After discussing the case at length, the committee found no evidence meeting the requirements of degenerative, progressive and incurable illness, according to an explanation from the committee that was provided to The Washington Post by Jaramillo. Sepúlveda’s illness “does not completely affect the functionality of the patient in instrumental activities or daily life as the patient and her family had expressed in previous medical records.”
Determining that Sepúlveda “has a high probability of expecting a life of more than 6 months,” the committee ruled that she wasn’t eligible for euthanasia.
Responding to the news that the woman’s planned euthanasia had been nixed, the Colombian health ministry said that an individual who does not have a terminal diagnosis cannot be cleared for euthanasia because the constitutional court has not put out its full ruling on the issue, according to the Post.
Legal experts pushed back against this, saying that court rulings take effect immediately, the Post said.