The public discussion about the decriminalization of euthanasia in Ecuador intensified Nov. 20 when the constitutional court began to evaluate the arguments for and against the request of Paola Roldán, a 42-year-old woman who also suffers from ALS and who seeks to end her life.
The case, which could pave the way for euthanasia in the country if the court declares an article of the Comprehensive Criminal Organic Code to be unconstitutional, is in the hands of nine judges. Although there is no set deadline for the ruling, it is estimated that it could be issued within a few months.
During the interview, when asked if he considered the possible decriminalization of euthanasia in Ecuador to be wrong, Alvarado said that “the right thing is to invest in research into the causes that bring on these diseases” as well as formulating “a policy of prevention that would set aside [funds] for the states to allocate resources for the treatment of diseases.”
To date, Ecuador lacks specific legislation to address ALS, and the absence of government action and investment to treat this disease is highlighted in several articles and publications.
According to the Spanish-language “Final Report: Status of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in Latin America and the Caribbean,” published by the Esteban Bullrich Foundation in 2011, two-thirds of Ecuadorians do not have access to social security, seriously affecting treatment for ALS patients with a lack of means and resources.
Alvarado emphasized that “more cases of people with ALS or other diseases will always arise,” underlining the need for the state to “raise awareness, educate, and develop programs and projects that provide real support to these families and patients.”
Alvarado’s example for the world
Estela Zea, spokesperson for the Yes to Life movement in Ecuador, told ACI Prensa that Alvarado’s position can be interpreted “as that of a conscience that has managed to overcome, through faith, physical pain and psychological anguish with the lucidity to be able to explain to the world that euthanasia is not the best solution but that resources must be invested and that scientific work be done to find the cause, and with the grace of God, the cure for this terrible disease.” According to medical studies, the disease affects 5 out of every 100,000 people in the world.
“Silvio’s testimony could impact the perception that this world, increasingly secularized, has about the relationship between human beings and God, and about the need for man to know God to be truly happy,” she noted.
Oña told ACI Prensa that her husband’s attitude toward the disease “is exemplary” because “he has decided to bequeath to his daughter and son and to myself the example of a life founded on Christ, so that we may have full confidence in God’s promises of eternal life after death.”
“He has told us that afflictions, suffering, pain are part of life itself, and that if the center of our life is Christ, we have the consolation to travel those paths,” she related.
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Oña affirmed with certainty that in the midst of suffering, God has provided them with strength. She believes that the true sign of strength is not to opt for euthanasia but rather to be “an example for his son, his daughter, the people who know him and society itself.”
“Our life as a family is a testimony of caring for each other, where patience, love, companionship, listening are essential and in their entirety come from the mercy and graces of God,” she said.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.