Denying Martha Sepulveda a dignified funeral was a “disrespectful and illegal” decision.
That is the opinion of the family and the attorneys of Sepulveda, a 51-year-old Colombian woman, who was scheduled to die by euthanasia on Sunday morning. Sepulveda was the first person in Colombia to be granted euthanasia. She is expected to die within six months.
Since 2019, Sepulveda has suffered from intense pain and has lost the ability to walk without assistance as a result of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a degenerative disease of the nervous system that affects the body’s mobility and is considered fatal, though death may take years.
On Saturday afternoon, a day before the procedure, a committee of the Colombian Pain Institute (Incodol) issued a statement saying that after reconsideration, they were canceling the euthanasia scheduled for Sunday morning, stating that Sepulveda’s case “does not meet the termination criteria.”
Sepulveda’s family members lashed out at the decision.
” This decision is disgraceful and not presentable,” Federico Redondo (Sepulveda’s father) told reporters on Sunday. “They did all in secret and didn’t notify us that they were meeting — the attending physician did not tell us.”
Redondo claimed that his mother was not evaluated by a medical panel before the decision was reversed. The decision was made without considering the patient.
An ‘illegal decision,’ attorneys say
The Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Laboratory (DescLab), the legal group representing Sepulveda, rejected the centers’ reversal. They claim Martha is not suffering from a terminal illness. The lawyers stated that this was an illegal and arbitrary decision. “The struggle (of Sepulveda) to take control continues.”
“By canceling the procedure and demanding a terminal diagnosis,” the group said, “IPS Indocol violated Martha’s fundamental right to a dignified death, violated her right to a dignified life. “
Her attorneys claimed that the woman complies with all legal requirements for requesting euthanasia. She has a severe and incurable illness, and she says she is suffering. They also claim that she stated her desire to die.
Sepulveda stated in past interviews that she was happy and calm to end her own life.
“God doesn’t want me to suffer,” Sepulveda (Catholic) said. She argued that because her condition is worsening, the best thing for her is to rest. “
Colombia was the first country in Latin America to decriminalize euthanasia, in 1997, and it is one of the few in the world where the procedure is legal. It was not allowed until this year in cases where the prognosis was terminal, meaning a life expectancy less than six months.
On July 22, the Colombian Constitutional Court expanded the right, allowing the procedure “whenever the patient suffers intense physical or mental suffering.”