VALPARAÍSO – The Lower House has passed the “death with dignity” bill. The proposal is now going to the Senate before it is voted and can become law. If approved, Chile would become the eighth country to legalize euthanasia.
With 79 votes in favor, 59 against and one abstention, the death with dignity and palliative cares bill passed the first stage in the lower house on Apr. 20, after nearly seven years. If it becomes law, euthanasia and assisted suicides for adults will become possible under the watch of medical professionals.
Only seven countries have regulated euthanasia.
Provisions in the bill state that only adults will be allowed euthanasia, and they must opt for it in advance. The option could even appear on identity cards. Doctors will need written proof of a diagnosis of a serious and incurable disease, whereas patients will be able to desist from a request until the last minute, including with hand gestures.
Meanwhile, medical institutions will not be allowed to advertise euthanasia, and facilities with a corporate ethos (i.e., religious hospitals) will not be forced to comply with the law. Such hospitals, however, will not be allowed to reprimand professionals who take part in euthanasia treatments elsewhere. The law will also require a minimum of 12 months residence in the country for foreign nationals to prevent suicide tourism.
The proposal includes two alternatives: euthanasia by a healthcare professional under medical supervision, and assisted suicide, whereby patients are prescribed medication they administer themselves, also under medical supervision.
Democratic Revolution lawmaker and head of the health commission Miguel Crispi said on Twitter, “we’re discussing people’s rights to perhaps the most difficult decision they could make, which is putting an end to their lives under very particular circumstances.”
#Eutanasia | “Aquellos que viven un sufrimiento producto de una enfermedad que no tiene tratamiento, no pueden estar condenados a vivir en esa miseria. Este Parlamento le tiene que entregar a esa persona la libertad de tomar esa decisión tan difícil, con todos los resguardos". pic.twitter.com/mNJoCvtLo3
— Miguel Crispi (@MiguelCrispiS) April 14, 2021
Lawmakers rejected the motion that considered extending euthanasia rights to those suffering from mental illness.
Rest of the World
At a regional level, Colombia is the only country in South America that has legalized euthanasia. Canada passed legislation in 2016.
New Zealand, Spain, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands have also passed euthanasia laws. The Portuguese parliament passed similar legislation, but it was overturned by the Constitutional Court in March.
In Chile, the Senate will discuss and vote the matter after which it can be signed into law.
Francisco is finishing his degree in Journalism at Universidad Finis Terrae in Santiago.