QUITO — Ecuador’s constitutional court on Wednesday decriminalised euthanasia, after a lawsuit brought by a patient suffering a slow and painful death from a fatal motor neuron disease.
The penalty for homicide “cannot be applied to a doctor who performs an active euthanasia procedure in order to preserve the rights to a dignified life,” the court ruling said.
Seven of the nine top judges voted in favour of the decision.
The lawsuit was brought in August by Paola Roldan, suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease — a progressive neurological disease.
Her complaint was regarding an article of the Ecuadorian penal code that sentences those guilty of homicide to between 10 and 13 years in prison.
“I want to rest in peace. What I experience is painful, lonely and cruel,” Roldan told a court hearing in November.
“This is not a fight to die. I know I’m dying, it’s a fight on how to do it.”
The court said that the health ministry must “develop regulations for active euthanasia” within two months.
It also said that the move would have to be approved by the National Assembly within a year. — AFP