Euthanasia in Colombia

The euthanasia in Colombia is regulated by the Resolution n o 1216 of 20 April 2015. On 3 July the same year, Colombia recorded the first case of legal euthanasia with the death of Ovidio González, father of cartoonist Julio César González alias Matador .


In 1997, an individual challenged the fact that euthanasia, which is considered a crime, is punishable by a maximum penalty less burdensome than homicide by invoking the rights to life and equality. He thus argues that euthanasia judged guilty should not enjoy a lower maximum sentence 1 . However, by decision C-239/97 of 20 May 1997 the Constitutional Court of Colombia rejected this challenge and held that a doctor could not be prosecuted for euthanasia if he had helped to put an end to his patient Terminally ill and consented to. If these conditions are not met, then it is of the “mercy killing” which remains a crime in Colombia 1 .

On April 19, 2015, Colombian Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria signed the protocol for the practice of euthanasia and, in fact, legalized it 2 . Euthanasia is thus regulated by the resolution n o 1216 April 20, 2015 3 but this decision has to face the opposition of the Colombian Catholic Church threatens to close many health facilities it manages in Country 2 .

On July 3 of the same year, Colombia recorded the first case of legal euthanasia with the death of Ovidio González, the father of cartoonist Julio César González alias Matador 3 . On that occasion, she also became the first country in Latin America to practice legally 4 .

Legal framework

The patient who wants to die with dignity be a terminally ill patient in the opinion of the treating physician and be major 5 .

Euthanasia and religion

Following the legalization of euthanasia in April 2015, the Catholic Church in Colombia, which runs many health facilities in the country, is opposed to medical institutions being obliged to do so. The Deputy Secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia (CEC), Fr Pedro Mercado Cepeda, said that the resolution “seriously affects the right to religious freedom and the right to freedom of conscience enshrined in the Constitution” because it ignores “The ethical and moral obligation of Catholic health care providers (or other denominations) not to abide by this rule for reasons of conscience or religious, ethical or moral identity” 2 .

Notes and references

  1. a and b ( en ) Constitutional Court of Colombia , ” Constitutional Claim Decision C-239/97 [ archive ] [PDF] , (Accessed 8 July 2015 )
  2. a , b and c Julia Sandero, ” The Church threatens to close hospitals in Colombia if the authorities force them to apply euthanasia “, The New Gazette , ( Read online  [ archive ] )
  3. a and b ( es ) « ¿Cómo reaches eutanasia in Colombia?  ” , El Universal , ( Read online  [ archive ] )
  4. ↑ ( es ) Ana De Salvo, ” Primer caso of legal euthanasia in América Latina ” , El Diario , ( Read online  [ archive ] )
  5. ↑ ( es ) ” Minsalud explica in detalle cómo se aplicará the eutanasia in Colombia ” , El Espectador , ( Read online  [ archive ] )