KEY POINTS

  • The Colombian woman was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, which affects the body's mobility
  • She will be the first patient with a nonterminal illness to receive euthanasia in Colombia
  • She said she believes God is allowing her to turn to euthanasia rather than continue a life of suffering

A 51-year-old Colombian woman who suffers from a degenerative disease affecting her body's mobility will die by euthanasia this Sunday.

Martha Sepúlveda Campo, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, asked for a permit to die by euthanasia in Colombia on July 26. This was four days after the Colombian Constitutional Court expanded the right to the procedure to include patients who suffer “intense physical or mental suffering from bodily injury or serious and incurable disease,” according to the EFE agency.

Campo’s request was granted on Aug. 6. She will be the first patient with a nonterminal illness to receive euthanasia in Colombia.

“I am calmer since the procedure was authorized. I laugh more, I sleep more calmly,” she said in an interview with the Colombian television network Noticias Caracol, adding that she has the support of her family.

Her symptoms have gotten worse since being diagnosed with the disease in 2019. Now, she can no longer walk without assistance.

The 51-year-old woman, who defines herself as “a Catholic person, very believing,” alluded to the pain she has suffered as a result of her disease, saying, “God does not want to see me suffer, and I believe that no one, no parent wants to see their children suffer.”

“In the state that I have it, the best thing that can happen to me is to rest,” she added.

Colombia became the first country in Latin America to decriminalize euthanasia, in 1997. It is also one of the few countries in the world where the procedure is legal. However, it was only allowed in cases of terminal illness until this year.

The woman's son, Federico Redondo Sepúlveda, told Noticias Caracol that he does not want to lose his mother but understands that “she no longer lives, she survives.”

According to the son, some members of their family are against the procedure, mainly for religious reasons. “With my mother, the issue has been more difficult,” he said, “but I think that deep down she also understands it."

Campo's decision has sparked criticism in the country, which was a large population of Roman Catholic believers. The church considers euthanasia a “serious offense.”

Monsignor Francisco Antonio Ceballos Escobar said that it was a “homicide gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and the divine respect of its creator,” local news outlets reported.

Campo said she was aware of the backlash and has discussed it with her pastors.

“I know that the owner of life is God, yes. Nothing moves without his will,” she said. But she added that she thinks God “is allowing this.”

The result of the euthanasia vote is binding The result of the euthanasia vote is binding Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Go Nakamura