The American Benevolent Society (ABS) organized a one-day seminar and workshop at Union Church Tuesday afternoon on how to establish a voluntad anticipada directive (living will) to instruct physicians in Mexico on to how to manage their end-of-life their medical care.
During the seminar, which was conducted inside the installations of Union Church in Colonia Lomas de Chapultepec, attendees were offered an explanation of the legal process and provided sample voluntad anticipada documentation by representatives from the Public Health Secretariat, Public Notary 171 and the ABC Medical Center.
The workshop was aimed at creating awareness of the voluntad anticipada process and to give firsthand explanations about a legal right dying patients in Mexico City have had since 2008 but which so far has only been implemented in about 6,000 cases.
The main reason that so few people have employed the living-will option is lack of awareness, said ABS executive director Barbara Franco, who organized and mediated the seminar.
A simple and important process for patients who may be facing drawn-out palliative care, a voluntad anticipada document must be notarized in order to legally guarantee a patient’s choice to end their lives through the suspension of heroic medical measures in cases of terminal illness when life expectancy has been diagnosed as being less than six months.
“The issue of a voluntad anticipada is a hard theme to broach, but a necessary one,” Franco said, adding that it is entirely different from euthanasia and completely revocable.
Public Notary Juan José Agustín Barragán Abascal later explained that in order to sign a voluntad anticipada, a person had to be deemed to be in full possession of their mental faculties, which is not always possible during declining health.
Consequently, Barragán Abascal said that it is better to plan ahead by drafting the document before a person becomes terminally ill.
Further information about how to create a living will in Mexico can be found on the Health Secretariat’s webpage under the voluntad anticipada link or through the ABS, which will help people by providing a sample document template and guidance as to how to choose a notary public.
During the months of March and April, a number of public notaries, including 171, will be offering significant discounts for legalizing the
“We all deserve to have a death as dignified as the life we have led,” said María de la Cruz Medina, head of the Health Secretariat’s Voluntad Anticipada Division.
“It is our right to decide how we want to live the end of our lives, to reflect on this last stage.”
Chief among the benefits of the voluntad anticipada is the certainty that, when the times comes, the patient’s having made use of this right will ensure that their will is respected at the hospital, legally and within their families, she said.
Franco added that one of the greatest advantages of having a living will is that its can save families considerable grief and division when trying to decide on how to care for a dying relative.
“Making one’s will clear is to avoid others the duty of deciding on a loved one’s medical fate,” Franco said.
“It is essential for the family to know what the honest wishes of a terminally ill person are. This is a chance to have an honest conversation among family members. Emotionally and family-wise, its an important decision.”
More information can be obtained at:
Mexico City’s Health Secretariat
The American Benevolent Society