Martha Sepúlveda, a 51-year-old Colombian woman suffering from ALS, plans to become the first individual in that country without a terminal prognosis to die via legally permitted euthanasia, according to The Washington Post.
Until this year the nation had just permitted euthanasia for individuals with a life expectancy of half a year or less, according to the outlet.
Although ALS is a deadly disease with no known cure, people who have it can live anywhere from two years to a decade or even more, the Post reported.
In the months after Sepúlveda got diagnosed she lost control over the muscles in her legs. “What happens once I can no longer get into bed or use the bathroom without help?” Sepúlveda would ask her son, according to the outlet. “How far am I going to go?”
“From the spiritual level, I am totally calm,” Sepúlveda, who identifies as “a Catholic person, very believing,” said during an interview with the Colombian television network Noticias Caracol, according to a report, which linked to the Spanish-language interview.
“I need my mother, I want her with me, almost in any condition, but I know that in her words she no longer lives, she survives,” the woman’s only child, Federico Redondo Sepúlveda, reportedly told Noticias Caracol.
According to the Post, the nation’s constitutional court ruled this year that euthanasia, which had already been available in the country, applies not just to the terminally ill, but also extends to individuals with “intense physical or mental suffering from bodily injury or serious and incurable disease.”
Last year, lawyers lodged a suit requesting for the constitutional court to allow those with non-terminal diagnoses to die via euthanasia, according to the Post. The court indicated that euthanasia should be available for people with “intense physical and mental suffering.”
“It opens up the possibility for people who are depressed or simply don’t want to live anymore,” noted Sen. María del Rosario Guerra, who belongs to the Democratic Center party of President Iván Duque, according to the Post. “We are promoting a culture of death.”
Sepúlveda is planning to die at 7 a.m. Sunday.