Santiago, Chile, Mar 7, 2015 / 16:32 pm
Proponents of a euthanasia bill in Chile are exploiting a sick young girl for political purposes, the girl's father has charged.
Fourteen-year-old Valentina Maureira suffers from cystic fibrosis – a degenerative and incurable illness. The teen garnered national attention when she taped a video asking to meet with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to ask her to authorize an injection that would allow her to "go to sleep forever."
After the video had been seen worldwide, Valentina changed her mind and chose to promote a message championing organ donation and fighting for life, not only in her case but for everyone affected by cystic fibrosis.
"Now she has decided to fight for her life and that of other children suffering from her grave illness," her father, Freddy Maureira, told a local radio station.
"She also asked the president for a video camera in order to tape her testimony for the purpose of helping other children in the same situation," he said.
But while Valentina no longer wants to die, the president of the Chilean Senate Health Committee, Guido Girardi, used the occasion to announce that he will resurrect discussion on the euthanasia bill that he helped author.
"I am going to bring back the debate on death with dignity to establish as a human right the power to decide what to do when faced with terminal illnesses without a solution," Girardi said during his speech in Parliament.
In an interview with CNA, human rights lawyer Pablo Urquizar warned that resurrecting the bill does not dignify the lives of the most vulnerable. Rather, he said, "what this does is treat persons like disposable objects because of the complex state of their health and vulnerability."
"Behind these euthanasia bills is the ideology of the disposable, which tries to make us see that the intentional death of a person in an absolutely vulnerable state is the solution for the problem of their sickness," Urquizar continued.
In statements to the press, Valentina's father accused Senator Girardi of exploiting his daughter's situation for political ends.
The senator had previously presented two bills de-penalizing euthanasia in 2000 and 2006, but the Health Committee did not discuss them.
Another senator promoting the bill is Fulvio Rossi, who will soon become the president of the Senate Health Committee. He has stated that "a human being ought to have the right to be able to exercise freedom and to be able to decide not only how to live but also how and when to die."
Some members of Parliament had harsh criticisms for the proposal, including Senate Health Committee member Jaqueline van Rysselberghe, who said euthanasia is nothing more than a type of "homicide."
"As doctors we are trained to be able to assist, improve, and help people so that that go through their illnesses in a better way, and … (not) to be able to kill people regardless of the condition they have," she said.
Euthanasia is penalized by law in Chile by article 393 of the Penal Code. There has been three active motions presented between 2011 and 2014 to change this, but they never were a priority on the legislative agenda.
The debate over legalizing euthanasia is added to the list of bills to be considered on the agenda of Chilean President Bachelet's government. Others bills are directly related to the issues of life and family, including the legalization of abortion and redefinition of marriage.