The Committee on Public Health in the lower chamber of Chile’s congress approved a bill that would allow 14-year-olds to obtain the means for medically-assisted suicide. This move, approved in extremis by a vote of 7 to 6, had been debated for several weeks by the Committee and is still criticized (cf. Chile: psychological suffering will soon be grounds for requesting euthanasia). The Minister of Health himself, Emilio Santelices, spoke shortly after the vote to express his disagreement: “To consider euthanasia is to fail when we have alternatives”, he said. “We in the executive branch believe that, as a society, we must move towards care and support, and for there to be means, medicines, and all kinds of treatments for a good death,” saying that he , “strongly defends” the “culture of life” on behalf of the government.
The voted text provides that doctors must inform the legal guardians of adolescents between 16 and 18 years of age, though these guardians may not object. Young people ages 14 to 16 years old must obtain authorization from at least one of their legal guardians, or request the intervention of a judge competent in family matters.
“It is frustrating that the response that the government gives to a child in pain is that the best thing that can happen is to end his life. This is not compatible with respect for the dignity of all human beings and in particular of suffering children. It is a failure of medicine, it is a failure of palliative care, and it is a failure of the state”, said Jorge Acosta, representative of the Minister of Health on the day of the vote.
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