Legalizing euthanasia in Mexico would prevent abuses

Legislating euthanasia in Mexico is a matter of social justice and could only be carried out by doctors at the patient's request. Get to know more.

Legalizing euthanasia in Mexico would prevent abuses
A medical act performed at the express request of a patient to end his or her life is euthanasia. Photo: UNAM Press Bulletin

Legalizing euthanasia in Mexico does not imply simply allowing it, it means having laws and limits to take care of individuals and avoid abuses, said Paulina Rivero Weber, director of the University Program of Bioethics (PUB) of the UNAM. Legislating in this regard is a matter of social justice, it should be an option for everyone. It is currently applied, even though it is not legislated, and access to it is granted to those who have the economic resources to pay for a private hospital or to travel to another country to carry out the process.

What is and what is not euthanasia?

Euthanasia is the medical act carried out at the express request of a patient to put an end to his or her life when he or she does not wish to live through an agony of inevitable pain and suffering. If it is not performed by a physician, it is not euthanasia, as it is stipulated. Other people can help a terminal patient to die, but that is another process.

If there is no express request from the patient, it is not euthanasia either. This is very important because some believe that with the acceptance of euthanasia the person could be killed and this is not the case, it is only applied upon the request expressed by a patient.

In the cases of patients who cannot express their will, because their condition does not allow them to speak, there is the advanced will to leave in writing how we want to live and how we do not want to live. "It is necessary to express the advance will, because perhaps when we need euthanasia, our laws will have already advanced. But if the patient has not expressed his or her will, it is not euthanasia."

If the process does not end the patient's life, it is not euthanasia. It may be palliative care or other processes, but if the patient has not asked for it, it is not euthanasia.

Moreover, the patient who asks for euthanasia is in a state of unavoidable suffering or pain. They are patients for whom no medicine can help them to remove the pain, who ask for death because the pain is unbearable.

Rivero Weber pointed out that she is explicit in the definition of euthanasia because there are other ways of dying that can be confused with this process. In the first place, death with dignity, has many meanings in different cultures, because the concept of dignity varies. "Dignified death is not euthanasia; the concept of dignity changes from one individual to another and from one society to another".

The philosopher delved that euthanasia is an act of compassion and extends to the whole society. "It means respect for an individual's self-determination and individual freedom."

In Mexico, we are secular, which means that everyone has the religion they want. "It grants freedom of religion and means that we are not going to include religions in legislation. With events like this, we want to reach agreements and beliefs are believed, not debated, so beliefs cannot be imposed on the law, especially some like the one that says that my life does not belong to me," she concluded.