The orthothanasia or dignified death , designates the correct action to death by those attending the suffering from an incurable disease or terminal phase.

By extension is understood as the right of the patient to die worthily , without the use of disproportionate and extraordinary means to maintain life. In this regard, in the face of incurable diseases and terminal illness should be treated with palliative treatments to avoid suffering, using reasonable measures until death.

Ortho- thasia is distinguished from euthanasia in that the former never intends to deliberately advance the death of the patient.


Ortotanasia comes from the Greek words orthos that means “straight and adjusted to the reason” and thanatos that means “death”. Euthanasia also comes from the Greek words eu , “good,” and thanatos . 1

Legislation on dignified death


In November 2007, in the Province of Río Negro , a law was unanimously approved that allows “every adult who is in a terminal state to express his will to reject bloody methods”. 2

In the province of Cordoba, Law 10,058 – DECLARATION OF WILLING ADVANCED DEATH, which aims to establish, regulate and guarantee the right of any person – with full capacity to act – to decide in advance their will with respect to The refusal to submit to medical means, treatments or medical procedures of therapeutic bane that intend to prolong in an unworthy way his life. This rule also provides for the creation of a Register of Advance Directives whose main functions are:

A) To register and to guard the Declarations of Advance Will (AVA);

B) Inform and advise citizens and health centers and professionals on the effects and requirements of the Early Warning Declarations (DVA);

C) To enable the access to and consultation of Advance Directives (ADVs) registered, in a fast and agile way, by healthcare professionals in charge of patient care, and

D) To reliably notify the declarant of the receipt of their Advance Will Declaration (DVA).

On May 9, 2012, the Argentine Senate converted into law a bill that enabled it to reject treatments that artificially prolong the lives of patients with terminal or irreversible pictures. The consent may be given by the patient or, if he is not in a position to do so, his relatives or legal representatives. 3

At national level, the new Civil Code, which will come into force on August 1, 2015, provides in its articles 59 inc. And 60, the possibility of expressing directives of advance in this regard.


On February 18, 2010, the Parliament of Andalusia – Autonomous Community of Andalusia – approved the Law on rights and guarantees of the dignity of the person in the process of death . 4

On May 13, 2011, the Spanish Council of Ministers (chaired by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero ) approved the preliminary draft Law on Palliative Care and Dignified Death . The standard exposes the rights of patients in terminal situation and also the obligations of the health personnel who attend them. The bill includes the right to waive medical treatment and the use of terminal sedation – even if agony is shortened and death is accelerated. The text recognizes the right of the patient to preserve his privacy and that of his family, who may be accompanied and receive the spiritual help he requests. The law states that, at least in the agony phase, the patient may pass it in a single room. 5


The Colombian Constitutional Court, in its Constitutional Judgment (No. 239) of 1997, referring to the article that in the Penal Code in force at the time sanctioned the murder of mercy with imprisonment from six months to three years, resolved to declare it enforceable, with the Warning that in the case of terminal patients in which the free will of the taxable person of the act is concurred, no liability can be derived for the medical doctor, since the conduct is justified. 6 The current Colombian Penal Code, in article 106, likewise punishes homicide for mercy.

Dignity before death with and without pain

Although in the current culture the consideration of ortho- thasia or worthy death at the end of the life of incurable and terminal patients is associated as one that occurs without therapeutic cruelty and with the application of palliative care and treatments, especially directed to unnecessary suffering and pain , Any person whose death occurred outside such generic considerations, whether by personal decision of the patient or other circumstances, should not be excluded from a dignified death. Palliative medicine focuses on improving the quality of life and relieving symptoms in a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, nutritionists, etc. In other countries, artistic expression therapy – such as music and painting – is offered, which allows patients to find a form of non-verbal communication, for anxieties, fears that can lead to confrontation with death. Patients who so desire are offered spiritual assistance. Given that the family is considered part of the therapeutic team is sought to educate it so that it can assume an active role for the care of the sick person.


  1. Back to top↑ – Dictionary RAE – Euthanasia
  2. Back to top↑ The legalization of “dignified death” in Río Negro raised controversy , Diario Clarín.
  3. Back to top↑ h “Worthy death is already law in Argentina” . May 9, 2012 . Retrieved on May 10, 2012 .
  4. Back to top↑ Law of Rights and Guarantees of the Dignity of the Person in the Death Process, Law 2/2010, adopted on February 18, 2010, promulgated March 8, 2010 – Parliament of Andalusia
  5. Back to top↑ The Council of Ministers approves the draft bill of Dignified Death, a serious event unfortunately, 13/5/2011, El País
  6. Back to top↑ Judgment C-239/97 .