March 25, 2024

Ecuador’s high court legalizes euthanasia 

Ecuador has become the third country in Latin America to permit euthanasia and assisted suicide. Last week its Constitutional Court decreed by a vote of 7 to 2 that the National Assembly should approve a law regulating the procedure within a year.

The decision was made after a 42-year-old woman with ALS, Paola Roldán, sued to have her right to euthanasia recognised. Her lawyers say that she can elect to be euthanised whenever she wants. 

“This has been a very special moment for me,” Roldan told the media. “I am grateful to everyone because today Ecuador is a little more welcoming, freer, and more dignified.”

According to a report in Reuters, the court recognized the right for people to make free and informed decisions including “the option of ending the intense suffering caused by a serious and irreversible bodily injury or a serious and incurable illness.”

As part of a revision of its health law, Cuba recently recognised the “right to die”. Colombia permits it in certain circumstances. Chile and Uruguay are debating the issue. 

Two of the nine judges dissented from the ruling (PDF). One of them, Carmen Corral Ponce, argued that that human dignity is linked to life, not to the conditions of a life; and that the free development of personality should not undermine human dignity. She stated bleakly that “euthanasia opens the door for a culture of death instead of a culture for life.”