Within the framework of Euthanasia Week June 20-24, lawmakers, academics and experts are discussing the need for legislation governing assisted suicide for terminally ill patients.
Organized by Morena Deputy and Health Commission head Emmanuel Reyes Carmona, the week-long conference is an opportunity for advocates to plead their case for laws regarding end-of-life issues and to introduce the option of assisted suicide and euthanasia nationwide.
It is currently illegal to assisted someone in dying in Mexico, regardless of their diagnosis and wishes, a fact that doesn’t keep euthanasia from happening, says Reyes Carmona.
“Euthanasia is illegal just like abortion. Abortion in our country is outlawed and yet it continues to be carried out. I believe that even though euthanasia is not regulated in this country, the practice continues,” he said, adding that euthanasia should be an option for any terminal ill patient who wants to die with dignity.
Another Morena lawmaker, Angélica Ivonne Cisneros Luján, encouraged Congress to look to the states that have end-of-life legislation on the books to see how they and their health systems have been affected by it. Those states allow terminally ill patients to refuse treatment that may extend their lives, known as passive euthanasia.
Jennifer Hincapié Sánchez, a member of the medical faculty of the National Autonomous University (UNAM), said national legislation would create more clear and concise ideas about end-of-life terminology and definitions.
“I could think and conceive of it this way, that a dignified death is one without pain or suffering, but there are other people who wouldn’t have the same definition. So it’s important to present euthanasia as an option that the state is obligated to provide to its citizens for the continuation, or in this case end, to their life plan.”
Despite what may be strong resistance from citizens on religious grounds, Paulina Rivero Weber, a researcher at UNAM, reminded the group assembled that end of life legislation is also a matter of equity.
“The only thing that legislation would do is extend this right to [all citizens], as wealthy individuals already have access by traveling to other countries, or even coming to an agreement with a friend who is a doctor to have the procedure done in a private hospital without any problems. The important thing is that 96% of the population is still suffering on their deathbed.”