Euthanasia could be approved in Chile

SANTIAGO – A proposal to legalize euthanasia is under discussion in Chile. The health commission in the deputies chamber will vote on the initiative on July 31. This issue was thrust into the public conscience after a 19-year-old terminal patient made a plea to then-president Michelle Bachelet and allow her to die.

A voting process on legalizing euthanasia is scheduled for July 31. Senator Guido Girardi and deputy Tucapel Jiménez from left-wing Partido por la Democracia (PPD) argue that legalizing euthanasia could give citizens the power to choose a merciful death. “A person who faces a dramatic situation, in which pain is unbearable, has the right to decide about the future. We aren’t talking about suicide, so it must be clear that there are objective conditions that make the quality of those people’s lives worthless,” Girardi said.

He explained that the proposal considers two options, passive and active euthanasia. Under the former, medical treatment ceases until the patient dies, while active euthanasia involves the permission to subscribe a drug that causes death.

PPD leader Heraldo Muñoz claims the initiative reflects progress, and Along with PPD, other left-wing players like Frente Amplio or the socialist party, and even some right-wing lawmakers, have shown a willingness to approve the measure. Former health minister Helia Molina said that euthanasia allows people to take a decision during a very difficult situation, and that society and religion shouldn’t impose their views on a terminal patient.

Hailing progress, deputy Jiménez said, “talking about euthanasia 10 or 15 years ago was something unthinkable. Nowadays, although it has been very difficult, we have a project that is under discussion in the deputies chamber.”

Early this year, a 19-year-old woman asked then-president Bachelet to allow her to die. Paula Díaz Ahumada has suffered from a degenerative illness for over four years, which shackles her to the bed so she can’t enjoy life. In her agony, she sent Bachelet a video asking for euthanasia. Whether she is granted that wish will be known soon.

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