Ana Estrada Ugarte, 42, whose last 30 years have suffered from a degenerative disease called polymyositis, wants to die. The disease she suffers paralyzes most of her muscles and keeps her lying in bed for a long time. Now, she demands the Peruvian State to receive assisted death. However, after being an unprecedented case, her desire to die is a crime in the Criminal Code.
For this, the Ombudsman’s Office has decided to take her case and claim for her the right to a dignified death. However, the issue remains a very unknown scenario for most Peruvians who have not seen a similar event.
What is euthanasia?
From the Greek Eu (good) and Thanatos (death), it is the act by which a person decides to end his life to avoid further suffering for himself and his relatives. The purpose of this practice is to save as much pain as possible to a patient whose diseases have no cure or does not respond to treatments. It is, therefore, a process that accelerates the death of the person in search of tranquility.
Euthanasia can be divided into two classes. Direct euthanasia that is divided into two: the active one that usually occurs through the induction of death by means of drugs, and the passive one that is usually a consequence of the cessation of administration of treatment and food to the patient to obtain his death. On the other hand, there is the so-called indirect euthanasia, in which it is sought that patients through the supply of certain medications that inhibit pain to it, manage to produce death in it definitively.
Pros and cons?
- Save suffering and pain to patients
- Avoid feelings of guilt in relatives and uselessness in the patient
- End of the economic investment of a patient in a terminal state
- Give the patient the option to die in dignity
- It is considered suicide or homicide.
- Risk of implementing euthanasia in debatable cases (Review the cases of Tine Nys and Nathan Verhelst in Belgium.)
What does WHO say?
The World Health Organization has left the vote and decision of each country the adoption of euthanasia within its rules and laws. On February 10, 1993, after the decision taken by the Netherlands to regularize euthanasia, the WHO declared itself in this regard.
«As Holland is governed by a democratic government and the decision was approved by Parliament, we assume that it reflects the public opinion of the country, on the other hand traditionally more liberal in many matters that have ethical aspects. Only if the members of WHO lead to the World Health Assembly the matter and it agrees to regulate in this regard could develop standards, but I doubt that it happens because of the delicate nature of the matter, «said the official spokesman for the international organization.
In which countries is euthanasia practiced legally?
There are numerous countries that have already regulated this practice. In Latin America, Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina, they have a certain lead in the discussion and regularization. However, there are only 5 countries in which it can be developed with total legality, including Canada, Belgium, Colombia, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.