Presentation of Marta Vidal i Roig

[Automatic translation from Catalan]:
Reflections around the law of the euthanasia

On 17 December 2020, the Congress of Deputies approved the Proposition of Organic Law for the Regulation of the euthanasia. On 24 March 2021, it was published in the Official Journal of the State, as Organic Law 3/2021, of 24 March, on the regulation of the euthanasia (https://www.boe.es/eli/es/lo/2021/03/24/3).

The law entered into force after three months of its publication; therefore, on 25 June 2021.

The article we are presenting deals with a very topical subject. It helps us to understand what this law represents, what the concepts are at stake and the different ideological responses that we will find.

The words of the author, Marta Vidal, in a recent conversation with whom she writes this, are the clearest testimony of what professionals, protagonists and their family are living in the face of this reality. We propose to read them, as they allow us to stand and understand much better the importance of thinking all the variables at stake, once the law is in force:

Since I have an interest in the process of dying, euthanasia has always interested me, as a way of trying to understand life and death. Working in an environment of palliative care and suffering, you know many people who consider ending their lives earlier. That’s what’s known as the desire to advance death. Palliativists need to explore whether our patients have this desire, so that they can work it.

In our country, euthanasia was an illegal practice, so far, but that does not mean that patients, relatives and professionals did not speak about it many times.

Many patients in a suffering situation often raise it. Palliative care can help accompany the suffering and try to alleviate what it causes to suffer, but it is not always enough and the person continues to want to die, and we cannot ignore that, nor can we expect the situation to become unbearable in order to raise it.

I’ve done some training in euthanasia and, since we’ve been talking about law enforcement, I’ve tried to catch up to help people who want to take in. It is a subject that does a great deal of respect and it will certainly make us suffer a great deal, because it is not at all pleasant to bring anyone to death, even if it represents a liberation. We will have to do a lot of teamwork and share a lot with various professionals, including from other disciplines such as nursing, social work, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc.

On the other hand, I believe that we are not yet ready: our society does not live well with death or the process of death. Very little is said about it and little is shared. Health and social resources are still very small to treat people who suffer well. Nor do we have the capacity to take care of, as everyone works and there are no temporary work casualties to take care of (such as maternal casualties) and domicile care companies have to be used. It’s complicated.

In addition, we professionals are not getting the training necessary to be able to develop what the law says. We do not know how we should coordinate, where they will be, who should practice it…

But, like everything when it starts, we will slowly get our hands on it and try to do it as best we can. Surely this law will make more talk of death, dignity, autonomy, shared responsibilities, improving our health and social system… because it is the limiting situations that cause change.

Marta Vidal i Roig studied medicine at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, in the teaching unit of the Hospital de la Vall d’Hebron, where she graduated in 1995. He did the specialty of internal medicine at the Hospital de Bellvitge until 2001. From there, she began her professional career as an internist doctor at the Hospital San Juan de Deu in Martorell, where she still works. In 2005, he joined the UFISS mixer Geriatric and Palliative of the same hospital. The UFISS is a multidisciplinary hospital support team, consisting of a doctor, nurse and social worker. Marta and her team are dedicated to assessing and contributing to the assistance of elderly patients and patients in advanced or terminal illness, of any age, except for paediatrics.

In 2008 he became Master of Palliative Cares and was a member of the Assistance Ethics Committee of the Hospital of Martorell, created that same year and until 2018. Since 2017, he has been coordinating the Clinical Commission of the Baix Llobregat Nord of the Department of Health of the Generalitat of Catalonia.

This is a review and presentation article of the subject which, once read, acquires the necessary manual quality. Marta gives us ideas, but she also raises questions and questions, and all of this in an excellent, didactic and clarifying way.

I hope you enjoy that reading, as much as I did when I read it.

Marisa Ara
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