Friday, February 26, 2021

Peru judge grants death by euthanasia to woman with chronic condition

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Ana Estrada
The Merco Press reported that a Peruvian Judge has approved the euthanasia death of a woman with a non-terminal chronic condition. According to the report:
Judge Jorge Ramirez, of the Superior Court of Lima, said in his ruling that the professional who helps Ana Estrada, 43, to die will not be punished with three years in prison, as established by law. The authorization does not open the possibility of more euthanasias but will only be applicable to Estrada's case.
Estrada lives with polymyositis which is a chronic condition that causes weakening of the muscles. There is no cure for polymyositis but it is not a terminal condition.

The decision must be appealed 

Even though Judge Ramirez stated that the decision only applies to Estrada, based on precedent, it is not possible to permit the killing of one person without opening the law to permitting the killing of other people with similar conditions.

It is concerning that this precedent approves euthanasia for a person with a chronic condition, meaning, if this precedent becomes law it would be a very wide open law.

This decision is contrary to the position of United Nations experts who published a press release on January 25, 2021 titled: Disability is not a reason to sanction medically assisted dying. 

The United Nations experts expressed alarm at a growing trend of nations enacting legislation enabling access to medically assisted dying based largely on having a disability or disabling conditions, including old age (Link to the Press Release). The Press release stated:
“Disability should never be a ground or justification to end someone’s life directly or indirectly.”

Such legislative provisions would institutionalize and legally authorize ableism, and directly violate Article 10 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which requires States to ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively enjoy their inherent right to life on an equal basis with others.

Catalina Devandas who was the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities for the UN Human Rights Council published a statement, in March 2020, concerning her report the New Eugenics and ableism in medical practise.

Devandas expressed her concerns on the impact of euthanasia for persons with disabilities. She stated:
"If assisted dying is made available for persons with health conditions or impairments, but who are not terminally ill, a social assumption could be made that it is better to be dead than to live with a disability," the expert warned. 
"People have the right to live and to die with dignity, but we cannot accept that people choose to end their lives because of social stigma, isolation or lack of access to personal assistance or disability-related services." 

The Peruvian decision specifically approves euthanasia for a woman with a disability. 

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