Costa Rica debates right-to-die legislation

November 4, 2015

Costa Rica’s legislature is debating a bill that would give terminally ill patients the right to refuse treatment, which supporters say will guarantee their right to a “dignified death.” The bill, first proposed last year by National Liberation Party lawmakers Antonio Álvarez Desanti and Carlos Arguedas Ramírez, came up for debate in the Social Affairs Commission Tuesday.

The proposed legislation would establish the right for a patient, or close relatives if the patient is not conscious, to make a decision about when to stop treatment if the patient’s condition is deemed “chronic, degenerative and irreversible” with a high impact on his or her quality of life, or if a doctor has given the patient six months or less to live. The patient would have to, in the presence of two witnesses, sign a will or otherwise demonstrate his or her intent not to continue treatment.

The bill does not legalize euthanasia in Costa Rica.

Dr. Alexis Castillo, president of the Doctors and Surgeons Association, told The Tico Times that the organization supports the bill. Castillo said doctors have thus far dealt with such cases on an individual basis, but without a legal framework. “This would put it in black and white,” he said.

The decision of when someone’s condition is deemed terminal would be up to doctors, according to the bill’s language.

The bill would also reform the Costa Rican Penal Code to reduce the sentences associated with helping someone end his or her life. The sentence for a “mercy killing” would be reduced from a maximum of three years to one year; and assisting with another’s suicide would be reduced from a maximum of five years to three.

Costa Rica ranks second in Latin America and 29th globally for its end-of-life care, according to a recent study.

You may be interested

In search of sustainability in Limón: What is sustainability?
Environment and Wildlife
245 views
Environment and Wildlife
245 views

In search of sustainability in Limón: What is sustainability?

Dr. Khosrow Farahbakhsh - September 23, 2018

I still remember the day I was asked to teach thermodynamics to a class of third year engineering students. I…

Costa Rica’s ongoing strike hits tourism industry hard
Travel & Tourism
5795 views12
Travel & Tourism
5795 views12

Costa Rica’s ongoing strike hits tourism industry hard

Alejandro Zúñiga - September 22, 2018

The strike that has been gripping Costa Rica since Sept. 10 has begun taking its toll on one of the…

Off the eaten path: Cantina X
Dining and Nightlife
2025 views
Dining and Nightlife
2025 views

Off the eaten path: Cantina X

William Ayre - September 21, 2018

You’ll find one of the best chifrijos in the country at the base of a mountain near Salitral in Santa…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.