LIMA (Reuters) – Ana Estrada, who is confined to her bed, says she feels “happy and content” about a historic decision by Peruvian officials to allow her an assisted death, a remarkable ruling in this mostly Roman Catholic country where euthanasia is illegal.
The Andean country’s government decided not to appeal a court ruling that recognizes her right to die.
“It is an individual case, but I hope it serves as a precedent,” Estrada, 44, told Reuters, after the ministries of justice and health decided late on Tuesday to respect a judge’s ruling that she has the right to “a dignified death.”
“I think it is an achievement not only of mine, not only of my cause, but also an achievement of law and justice in Peru,” Estrada said with a muffled and broken voice.
Estrada, a psychologist, has suffered for three decades from polymyositis, a rare incurable disease that progressively attacks her muscles. She breathes with a respirator most of the time.
Estrada started a legal battle about five years ago to be allowed to decide to end her own life “when the time comes.”
Euthanasia is disallowed in many countries and many in Peru strongly oppose the practice. Abortion and same-sex marriage are also prohibited in Peru. In Latin America, Colombia allows the procedure under certain conditions.
The court ruling last week provides that state health insurer EsSalud provide “all conditions” needed for Estrada’s euthanasia, which must occur within 10 business days from the date that she decides to end her life.
EsSalud said a statement it would comply with the ruling and form medical commissions to develop a protocol for such cases. The court ruling also cleared anyone assisting Estrada in her death from facing charges, although local law still prohibits anyone from helping people to die.
Estrada has written a blog since 2016 called “Ana seeks dignified death.” She told Reuters she would decide to end her life when she could no longer write.
“My body is failing, but my mind and my spirit are happy,” she said. “I want the last moment of my life to continue like this, in freedom, with peace, tranquility and autonomy. I want to be remembered like that.”
(Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Richard Chang)