Peruvian woman dies by euthanasia after years-long fight for ‘dignified death’

By Thomson Reuters Apr 22, 2024 | 2:09 PM

LIMA (Reuters) – A Peruvian woman suffering from a degenerative illness has died by euthanasia after a lengthy court battle ended in a landmark ruling allowing her to end her life with medical assistance, her lawyer said on Monday.

Ana Estrada, 47, had lived with a rare incurable condition called polymyositis, which causes muscle weakness, for the past three decades. She was bed-ridden and required a ventilator to breathe.

She died on Sunday, her lawyer Josefina Miro Quesada said on X.

Estrada, a psychologist, went to court in 2016 to fight for access to euthanasia, illegal in Peru. In 2022, the Latin American nation’s Supreme Court confirmed a ruling that gave Estrada an exemption to end her life.

“Ana has left us grateful to all the people who helped give her a voice, who were with her through this fight and who supported her decision unconditionally, with love,” Miro Quesada said.

Euthanasia is illegal in most countries including Peru, a majority Roman Catholic nation. In Latin America, Colombia, Ecuador and Cuba have allowed the practice under certain conditions.

In an interview with Reuters after her court win, Estrada said she hoped her case would set legal precedent for the right to assisted suicide. Under Peruvian law, assisting someone’s suicide and killing a terminally ill patient are punishable with prison time.

While the Supreme Court ruling did not legalize assisted dying, it exempted the doctor who supplied the drug to end Estrada’s life from any punishment.

“There will come a time when I will no longer be able to write, or express myself,” Estrada said at the time. “My body fails, but my mind and spirit are happy. I want the last moments of my life to be just like this.”

(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Kylie Madry; Editing by Ros Russell)