Colombia takes medically assisted death into the morally murky world of terminally ill children

The Globe and Mail

Stephanie Nolan

Colombia decriminalized medically assisted death in 2015, the first country in Latin America to take the step, but it went much further last May with a regulation that made the procedure available to children.

It was a particularly striking decision in a socially conservative country where almost 80 per cent of people identify as religious Roman Catholics and where the population of evangelical Christians is growing rapidly; the churches, which vocally oppose euthanasia, are a powerful political force.

Providing assisted death to children is a controversial subject even in the field of palliative care. . . [Full text]

Colombia’s bishops seek conscience protection in wake of euthanasia directives

Communicado de la Comisión Permanente de la Conferencia Episcopal de Colombia

Statement of the Permanent Committee of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia

(Extract)

 . . . La Iglesia Católica quiere ahora reiterar, a través de la voz de sus pastores, su firme desaprobación a este grave extravío ético y moral. Consideramos gravísimo que derechos fundamentales, como el derecho a la vida, a la libertad de conciencia o a la libertad religiosa, consagrados en nuestra Carta Magna, sean injustamente restringidos por organismos que deberían ser garantes de la Constitución y de los derechos de los colombianos. . . . The Catholic Church now wants to reiterate, through the voice of its pastors, its firm disapproval of this serious ethical and moral loss. We consider it very serious that fundamental rights, such as the right to life, freedom of conscience or religious freedom, enshrined in our Constitution, are unjustly restricted by organizations that should be guarantors of the Constitution and of the rights of Colombians.
Como Iglesia Católica, siempre respetuosa del ordenamiento jurídico como base fundamental de la sociedad, solicitamos al Gobierno que, en los diversos campos sociales, entre ellos el de la salud, garantice a nuestras instituciones el poder desarrollar su labor en pleno acatamiento de sus propios valores e ideales. . . As a Catholic Church, always respectful of the legal system as the fundamental basis of society, we ask the Government, in the various social fields, including health, to guarantee our institutions to develop their work in full compliance with their own values and ideals. . .

[Full text]

Colombian Physicians Get the Final Go-Ahead for Euthanasia

18 Years of Legal Limbo Over with New Regulatory Protocol

Pan Am Post

Sabrina Martín

An 18-year wait came to an end on Monday, April 20, when Health Ministry authorities presented guidelines for Colombian doctors to perform euthanasia. The Constitutional Court ordered them to set the protocols in a February decision, after declaring the practice legal all the way back in 1997.

Medical practitioners in the Andean country have routinely refused to support assisted suicide, fearing criminal charges. Even with the court judgment standing, there was simply no regulatory environment. . . the Health Promotion Agency (EPS) is tasked with finding an alternative doctor or health center if the patient’s usual provider refuses to help him die. [Full text]

Colombia to Finalize Euthanasia Law in March

Court Gives Health Ministry 30 Days to Regulate Assisted Suicide

Pan Am Post

Sabrina Martín

On Tuesday, February 17, the Colombian Constitutional Court gave the Ministry of Health 30 days to implement a number of protocols pertaining to euthanasia, setting guidelines for all health care providers in the Andean country.

During this time, health agencies are tasked with forming interdisciplinary committees to advise patients and their families on their decision to resort to euthanasia, in order to prevent such a decision being made as a result of mood or depression. . . [Full text]

 

Healthcare responsibilities and conscientious objection

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2009 Mar;104(3):249-52. Epub 2008 Nov 29.

Rebecca J. Cook, Monica Arango Olaya, Bernard M. Dickens

Abstract:

The Constitutional Court of Colombia has issued a decision of international significance clarifying legal duties of providers,hospitals, and healthcare systems when conscientious objection is made to conducting lawful abortion. The decision establishes objecting providers’duties to refer patients to non-objecting providers, and that hospitals,clinics, and other institutions have no rights of conscientious objection. Their professional and legal duties are to ensure that patients receive timely services. Hospitals and other administrators cannot object, because they do not participate in the procedures they are obliged to arrange. Objecting providers, and hospitals, must maintain knowledge of non-objecting providers to whom their patients must be referred. Accordingly, medical schools must adequately train, and licensing authorities approve, non-objecting providers. Where they are unavailable, midwives and perhaps nurse practitioners may be trained, equipped, and approved for appropriate service delivery. The Court’s decision has widespread implications for how healthcare systems must accommodate conscientious objection and patients’ legal rights. [Full Text]