Euthanasia in Mexico

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As of December 2010, Aguascalientes, Michoacán and the Federal District (Mexico City) are the only regions in Mexico where passive euthanasia is legal.

Legislation on euthanasia in Mexico distinguishes between passive and active euthanasia. Since 7 January 2008 the law allows the terminally ill —or closest relatives, if unconscious— to refuse medication or further medical treatment that may extend life (known as passive euthanasia) in Mexico City,[1] in the state of Aguascalientes (since 6 April 2009)[2] and, since 1 September 2009, in the state of Michoacán.[3]

While the exact procedure may vary, the regional laws dealing with living wills —usually called leyes de Voluntad Anticipada— generally require a notary public to witness the instructions left by the patient.

As for active euthanasia, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) have introduced bills to decriminalize it in both the Senate (2007)[4] and the Legislative Assembly of the Federal District (2009),[5] but have failed to change the Article 166 bis 21 of the General Health Law, which still defines euthanasia as mercy homicide.[6] In addition, as of December 2010, 18 out of 31 states have modified their constitution under pressure from the dominant Catholic Church to protect the right to life "from the moment of conception until natural death",[7] effectively discarding any initiative contemplating active euthanasia within state borders.


Official statistics are scarce but bioethicist Horacio García Romero claims that up to 45% of the terminally-ill patients in the country demand some form of passive euthanasia.[8] On October 2010 the secretary of health for Mexico City announced that, since the legalization of passive euthanasia, 497 patients have formalized the process,[9] including at least 41 out-of-state residents and 2 citizens of the United States.[10]

Public opinion and political lobbying[edit]

According to a Parametría poll conducted in February 2008, 59% of Mexicans think doctors should have the legal right to end the life of a person suffering from an incurable illness upon a request by the patient and his or her relatives, while 35% disagree.[11]

Its main opponents, pro-life activists[12] and Christian churches[13] —particularly the dominant Roman Catholic Church— have strongly lobbied against active euthanasia and promote different bills protecting the right to life "from the moment of conception until natural death."[7] However, regional bills supporting passive euthanasia have been endorsed by several Catholic clergymen, including the archbishops of León[14] and Morelia.[15]

Suicide tourism[edit]

A drug known as liquid pentobarbital is used by owners to euthanize pets. When given to humans, the drug can give them a painless death in under one hour. The pet shops across Mexico have such drugs. As a result, elderly tourists from across the globe seeking to terminate their own lives were reported to be flying out to Mexico. [16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Publica GDF Ley de Voluntad Anticipada". El Universal (in Spanish). Mexico City. Notimex. 7 January 2008. Retrieved 25 September 2009.
  2. ^ Rodríguez, Susana; Salazar, Aníbal (8 April 2009). "Sólo falta reglamentar la voluntad anticipada para aplicarla: Ruvalcaba". La Jornada Aguascalientes (in Spanish). Retrieved 26 September 2009.
  3. ^ "Michoacán aprueba Ley de Voluntad Anticipada". El Economista (in Spanish). Morelia, Mexico. Notimex. 1 September 2009. Retrieved 25 September 2009.
  4. ^ "Mexico moves to legalise euthanasia". Mexico City. Reuters. 13 April 2007. Retrieved 25 September 2009.
  5. ^ Barría, Cecilia (26 November 2009). "Crece debate por eutanasia en México DF". BBC Mundo (in Spanish). Retrieved 23 December 2010.
  6. ^ Cruz González, René (21 January 2010). "PAN y PRD matan la ley priista de eutanasia en ALDF". La Crónica de Hoy (in Spanish). Mexico City. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
  7. ^ a b Bremer, Catherine (9 July 2005). "Euthanasia Stance Affirmed in Mexico". Washington Post. Reuters. p. B08. Retrieved 25 September 2009.
  8. ^ Sánchez Limón, Moisés (5 August 2007). "En México, 45% de enfermos terminales son sometidos a eutanasia pasiva, dice especialista en bioética". La Crónica de Hoy (in Spanish). Mexico City. Retrieved 25 September 2009.
  9. ^ López, Allan (8 October 2010). "497 personas asumen ley de Voluntad Anticipada". El Universal (in Spanish). Mexico City. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
  10. ^ Balboa, Berenice (13 May 2010). "Suscriben 391 personas documento de Voluntad Anticipada". El Universal (in Spanish). Mexico City. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
  11. ^ "Many Mexicans Open to Legal Euthanasia". Angus Reid Global Monitor/Parametría. 8 May 2008. Archived from the original on 4 July 2008. Retrieved 25 September 2009.
  12. ^ "Provida pide a Frenk abstenerse de organizar debates sobre eutanasia". La Crónica de Hoy (in Spanish). Notimex. 30 May 2005. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
  13. ^ Nájar, Alberto (16 November 2008). "Cristianos se unen contra el aborto y la eutanasia". Milenio (in Spanish). Retrieved 23 December 2010.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Domínguez, Pedro (1 November 2010). "Arzobispo de León está a favor del bien morir". Milenio (in Spanish). Mexico City. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
  15. ^ Silva, Azucena (2009-09-01). "Iglesia de Michoacán avala Ley de Voluntad Anticipada". El Universal (in Spanish). Morelia, Mexico. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  16. ^ Emmott, Robin; Hernández, Magdiel; Bremer, Catherine; Chiacu, Doina (3 June 2008). "Euthanasia tourists snap up pet shop drug in Mexico". Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Reuters. Retrieved 25 September 2009.