Colombia has regulated euthanasia for children and adolescents

The South American country is the third in the world to pass a sentence of this style in order to protect the right to dignified death

Colombia has regulated euthanasia for children and adolescents

According to the resolution published by the Department of Health and Social Protection of Colombia, minors have the right to euthanasia to die with dignity, as long as they have life-limiting conditions, in which there is no reasonable hope of cure.

In 2015, Colombia positioned itself as the only country in Latin America with a regulation to apply euthanasia in adults. Since that year, about 40 patients have resorted to this process, demanding the right to a dignified death. Now, on Friday, March 9, it became the third country in the world, after the Netherlands and Belgium, which regulates this practice for minors, through Resolution 825 of 2018, issued by the Department of Health and Social Protection of Colombia.   

The foregoing was issued in compliance with judgment T-544 of 2017, in which the Constitutional Court ordered the Department "the urgent issuance of the regulation that guarantees the right to death worthy of children and adolescents". Likewise, the aforementioned sentence provides guidelines for the formation and functioning of scientific-disciplinary committees for the right to die with dignity, which will operate in a series of cases collected by the high court.

Fundamentally, the resolution states that every minor who presents a condition that threatens or limits their life must have access to a high quality, holistic, family-centered, sustainable palliative care. Therefore, euthanasia can only be practiced with the verification of a scientific committee consisting of a doctor, a psychiatrist and a lawyer, where it is found that despite treatments and palliative care the minor can not be cured of the disease, the pain suffered is inescapable and the prognosis of life is less than six months.

Additionally, the resolution approved euthanasia from a certain age range, stating that in the first years of life minors are not clear about the concept of "own death". In this way, newborns, neonates, and children under 6 years old were excluded from the euthanasia procedure.

Minors between the ages of 7 and 12 may access said practice, complying with the requirements and with the approval of both parents; when it comes to adolescents between 12 and 14 years old, if there is a discrepancy between the parents, the patient's desire will prevail; and, finally, from 14 years onwards, the adolescent's will prevails, but "always making it clear that the necessary assessments will be made".

Finally, the procedure may be carried out in all public or private health care institutions and physicians may resort to conscientious objection, in which case the medical center shall seek another professional to execute the procedure.


Latin American Post | María Alejandra Triviño

Translated from "Colombia reglamentó eutanasia para niños, niñas y adolescentes"

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