December 13, 2023
On December 7, 2023, members of the O’Neill Institute’s Health and Human Rights Initiative filed an amicus curiae brief in the “acción de inconstitucionalidad” N. 67-23-IN (currently under review by the Constitutional Court of Ecuador) in favor of the decriminalization of euthanasia. This intervention represents the Health and Human Rights Initiative’s first institutional position on this topic.
The amicus supports Paola Roldán Espinosa, who faces a degenerative disease without cure and seeks the recognition of her right to a dignified death through the decriminalization of euthanasia, through a conditional declaration of unconstitutionality of Article 144 of the Criminal Code (COIP). This case joins others in the region and in the world, where individuals face legal or administrative obstacles to exploring options to achieve a dignified death.
The intervention advocates for the recognition of the right to a dignified death as a human rights issue and explains how the conditional declaration of unconstitutionality proposed in action N. 67-23-IN aligns with Ecuador’s international human rights obligations. Furthermore, it stresses that the requirements proposed in the action, such as incurable illness and physical or psychological suffering, are in line with international standards. The amicus further emphasizes the need for decriminalization to be accompanied by robust legal and institutional safeguards — ensuring the verification of individuals’ free and informed consent without these mechanisms becoming obstacles or barriers to access.
At the Health and Human Rights Initiative, we believe that the case of Paola Roldán offers an opportunity for the Constitutional Court of Ecuador to recognize the relationship between end-of-life decisions and the right to health. By aligning itself with international human rights law, ethics, and comparative law, the Court can ensure mechanisms that prevent abuses and protect the rights of those who wish to access specific health services in order to die with dignity.