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Vallarta Business News

Mexico to Allow Terminally Ill Patients to Refuse Treatment

By Adriana Lopez Caraveo and Jens Erik Gould

Nov. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Mexican lawmakers approved a law allowing citizens suffering from terminal diseases and their families to refuse treatments that keep them alive.

The measure, unanimously approved by the Senate with one abstention today, only applies to patients who have a life expectancy of six months or less, said Ernesto Saro, head of the health committee. Doctors can't stop giving patients food, water, psychological care and pain killers, he said.

The new legislation, already passed by the lower house of Congress, will allow families to stop spending money to preserve the life of terminal patients and help hospitals better use limited equipment, said Saro, a member of the ruling National Action Party, or PAN.

"I have seen cases where the family loses all they have due to doctor's stubbornness," Saro said. "Another problem is that hospitals don't have enough equipment."

Mexico didn't previously have legislation allowing a terminal patient to refuse treatment, said Senator Lazaro Mazon of the Party of the Democratic Revolution. There is no legislation in Mexico that allows for euthanasia, which the American Medical Association refers to as the administration of a lethal agent to relieve incurable suffering.

Senators said the measure can't be referred to as euthanasia because it doesn't allow for assisted death.

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