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Man Becomes First To Die Under New Euthanasia Policy Despite Not Being Terminally Ill

Jess Hardiman

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| Last updated 

Man Becomes First To Die Under New Euthanasia Policy Despite Not Being Terminally Ill

Featured Image Credit: CGTN America

A man in Colombia has become the first person in the country with a non-terminal illness to die legally by euthanasia, his lawyer has confirmed. 

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Victor Escobar, 60, had fought for two years for his right to legal euthanasia, having faced opposition from doctors, clinics, courts and the Catholic church – which opposes assisted suicide. 

His lawyer, Luis Giraldo, told Reuters he had suffered from end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which greatly diminishes quality of life, as well as a number of other conditions. 

Credit: CGTN America
Credit: CGTN America

The ailment had left Escobar in a wheelchair and he often experienced body spasms – this suffering being what led his family to support the idea of euthanasia. 

The procedure took place in a clinic in Cali, the capital city of Colombia's Valle del Cauca province, late on Friday 7 January. 

In a video message sent to media by Giraldo, Escobar said: "We reached the goal for patients like me, who aren't terminal but degenerative, to win this battle, a battle that opens the doors for the other patients who come after me and who right now want a dignified death.” 

Credit: CGTN America
Credit: CGTN America

He added: "I'm not saying goodbye, just 'see you later.’” 

Colombia de-penalised death in 1997, but it wasn’t until July 2021 that a high court expanded the ‘right to dignified death’ to apply to those not suffering from a terminal illness. 

Footage shows Escobar surrounded by family shortly before being sedated and given a lethal injection. 

The following day, a second Colombian was also euthaniased.

Credit: CGTN America
Credit: CGTN America

According to a statement from DescLAB, which supported the woman’s case, Martha Sepulveda underwent the procedure in the city of Medellin at midday on Saturday 8 January. 

She had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) - also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease – which was diagnosed in 2018, and was due to be euthanised in October last year but the process was halted last minute. 

After removing penalties for euthanasia under certain circumstances in the 1990s, Colombia's Constitutional Court also ordered the procedure to be regulated in 2014. 

The first person in the country with a terminal illness to die under those rules was in 2015. 

As of 15 October last year, 178 people with terminal illnesses had been legally euthanised in Colombia since 2015, according to Colombian legal rights advocacy group DescLAB. 

Topics: World News

Jess Hardiman
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