February 26, 2015 / 2:48 PM / 4 years ago

Chilean girl with cystic fibrosis tells president: Let me die

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - A 14-year old Chilean girl with cystic fibrosis has asked to be allowed to die in a film she made pleading with President Michelle Bachelet to authorize her euthanasia.

In a video that news media said had been uploaded to her Facebook page on Sunday, Valentina Maureira said from her hospital bed: “I am asking to speak urgently to the president because I am tired of living with this sickness and she can authorize the injection to put me to sleep forever.”

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition that affects the lungs and other organs.

Maureira’s brother had died of the disease, her father, Freddy Maureira, told local Radio Bio Bio.

“She has already had five operations ... which have caused her a lot of suffering and pain,” he said. “It was promised that things would get better, but for her it was worse.”

The video had surprised him, he added.

A spokeswoman from the Universidad Catolica clinic in Santiago confirmed that Valentina Maureira was a patient at the hospital and said she was stable, with no immediately life-threatening conditions.

Government spokesman Alvaro Elizalde said on Thursday that the health ministry was in contact with the family to ensure Maureira was receiving the psychological and medical treatment she needed, but ruled out euthanasia as an option.

“We have to be completely clear, the current norm, the current law in Chile does not allow the government to agree to a request of this nature,” he said.

In Chile, as in many countries, euthanasia is against the law. The Catholic Church retains a strong influence on society, and the country is one of a handful to ban abortion under any circumstances.

Center-left Bachelet, who is a year into her second term, has introduced reforms, including a bill being debated in Congress that would relax the abortion law. These have angered conservatives.

Bachelet’s agenda has not mentioned euthanasia.

Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien and Fabian Cambero; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Howard Goller

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