Catholic Bishops Demand Government Commitment to Life as Colombia’s Constitutional Court Approves Decriminalization of Physician-Assisted Suicide.
The Bishops’ Conference, in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church and its fundamental option to serve the human being, has fully expressed its “deep sadness” at the court’s decision.
In the statement titled “We are responsible for life!” the Colombian bishops reiterate their desire to “translate the love of Christ into concrete gestures of prayer, affection, service and accompaniment in the face of pain”, as the Good Samaritan did.
The bishops called on the authorities of the country to “be compatible with the inviolable value of human life, enshrined in the Colombian Constitution (art. 11)” and its objective of “protection, defense and care of life and not its destruction “.
Those who suffer, their families and every human being are urged to reject “the temptation, sometimes induced by legislative changes, to use medicine to produce death,” the bishops said.
“No healthcare worker can be compelled to collaborate in the death of another,” they said, adding that the fundamental right to personal conscientious objection must be guaranteed, “just like the principles of mission and of the vision of institutions according to their nature, which identifies them as pro-life, are safeguarded.
Colombia is a South American country of 50.37 million people, where Catholics constitute more than 79% of the population.
The court’s decision, which was adopted by a six-to-three vote last Thursday, said: “A doctor who assists a person suffering from intense suffering or a serious illness and who decides freely to dispose of his own life, operates within the constitutional framework”.
Until now, there was a prison sentence of 16 to 36 months for people who assisted in suicide.
But with the court decision, physician-assisted suicide is now permitted as for euthanasia, when the patient is diagnosed with a physical injury or a serious and incurable disease and also when the patient suffers from physical pain or mental intense incompatible with the concept of dignity life.
This can now be done under the supervision of a doctor.
Colombia legalized euthanasia in 1997.
Colombia joins Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Canada, Australia, Spain, Germany and some states in the United States to allow medically assisted suicide legalized, but is the first country to Latin America to do so.