Cuba’s Communist Party approved changes to the nation’s health code that, once formally implemented, will allow euthanasia under the country’s barely functional healthcare system.
The changes, discreetly introduced by Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power with barely a mention in Castro regime state propaganda outlets, are slated to go into effect once the communist-led legislature introduces the necessary regulations for their application. Cuba will then become the second country in Latin America to approve euthanasia after Colombia did so in 1997.
“The right of people to a dignified death is recognized in end-of-life decisions, which may include the limitation of therapeutic effort, continuous or palliative care, and valid procedures that end life,” the corresponding text in the final draft of the legislation reportedly read.
The health law’s text also claimed to recognize “the right of people to have access to a dignified death, through the exercise of end-of-life determinations, which may include the limitation of therapeutic effort, continuous or palliative care and valid procedures that end life.”
State media claimed that the euthanasia provision is allegedly meant for “people with chronic degenerative and irreversible diseases, with intractable suffering, who are in an agonizing or terminal phase of life or who have suffered injuries that place them in this condition.”
“This regulation legitimizes a right demanded by people for several years; we are not talking about euthanasia but about determinations,” Leonardo Pérez Gallardo, professor at the University of Havana and president of the Cuban Society of Civil Law, told the state-owned Cuban News Agency (ACN).
Pérez Gallardo did not address in his remarks any difference he considered there to be between euthanasia and “valid procedures that end life,” as stated in the law’s text.
The introduction of euthanasia to Cuban law comes at a time when Cuba’s healthcare system — highly lauded by international leftists as one of the best in the world — has been left in complete shambles after six decades of communist rule.
The collapse of Cuba’s health care is marked by a complete lack of even the most essential supplies to treat patients. The near-ruined state of the nation’s healthcare infrastructure often presents itself in the most unsanitary conditions.
“I have had to cast a patient with a piece of cardboard. The scissors and the stethoscope you have to take care of as if they were gold; if you are careless, they steal them in the consultation room. Since we lack paper, we don’t even have prescriptions,” A Cuban orthopedic specialist told Diario Las Americas in December.
The impending introduction of euthanasia also comes as Cuba continues to face a severe population collapse fueled by declining birth rates and accelerated growth in the elderly population among Cuba’s remaining inhabitants. Large numbers of the nation’s youth are fleeing communism, fueling the largest migrant crisis in Cuban history.
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According to statistics presented by Cuba’s National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI), the island nation has roughly 11.08 million citizens. Since 1977, Cuba has been unable to achieve the 2.1 fertility rate required of a country — meaning 2.1 children are born per woman of childbearing age — to reach population replacement levels.
Castro regime officials have stated, “If the current trends are not reversed, which seems unlikely,” then Cuba’s population could drop from its current 11 million to fewer than nine million people by 2054.
Cuban Health Minister José Angel Portal Miranda celebrated the changes introduced to Cuba’s health code on Friday evening, omitting any specific mention of euthanasia.
“Cuba already has a new Public Health Law. The law, which has just been approved by the [Cuban National Assembly], provides Cuban public health with an updated legal shield and guarantees the fundamental human right to health and life,” Portal Miranda wrote on Twitter. “The major commitment: its effective implementation.”
The dramatic and increasing exodus of Cubans fleeing from communism in recent years has also led to a significant decrease in Cuban healthcare personnel.
In 2022, Cuban official statistics indicated that the nation counted 291,098 healthcare professionals, down from 312,406 in 2021. In the case of physicians with a specialty, Cuba went from 106,131 in 2021 to 94,066 in 2022.
Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.