Chile legislature OKs euthanasia bill, which heads to Senate

Cecilia Heyder, a Chilean activist for the right to a dignified death and who suffers from metastatic cancer, lupus and a blood disorder, sits during an interview with The Associated Press at a park in Santiago, Chile, April 15, 2021. Heyder hopes that in the coming days lawmakers will approve legislation that decriminalizes euthanasia, which establishes that people suffering from serious and irremediable illnesses can request euthanasia or assisted suicide. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
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SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Chile’s Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday approved a bill to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide for those over 18. It now goes to the Senate for debate.

Under the legislation, which was submitted to congress by the center-left opposition in 2014, a person seeking euthanasia would have to be diagnosed by two doctors as having a serious and incurable disease, be conscious when making the request or have previously established the request, and suffer from unbearable physical ailments.

The initiative seeks to regulate euthanasia, in which a doctor administers a drug that causes death, and assisted suicide, in which a doctor gives a drug that the patients take themselves.

Cecilia Heyder, 53, hopes to become the first to use euthanasia if the legislation is finally approved.

Heyder has metastatic breast cancer and lupus and a couple of years ago developed a deficiency in one of the proteins involved in blood clotting.

“This causes me multiple hemorrhages, bruises," she said, adding that doctors have told her there is no cure.

“It is my dream to fall asleep and not wake up anymore. That is what I am waiting for,” she said. “Because it is not life that I am leading.”

Pablo Villar, Heyder’s lawyer, had criticized the bill’s slow progress. “Doña Cecilia can’t wait any longer,” he said.

Pro-government lawmaker Leónidas Romero said the leftist Broad Front and the Communist Party, which promoted the bill, "are suffering from the James Bond syndrome: license to kill.”

Supporters of the bill say doctors would have the right to refuse to participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Opposition lawmaker Leonardo Soto said the decision by a terminally ill person to use the law — if it wins final approved — “will always depend on the person, the patient.”

One of its articles states that a third party cannot request euthanasia or assisted suicide.