A Colombian Senate commission on Thursday approved the regulation of euthanasia 15 years after its decriminalization.

The bill was passed by 11 votes to 5.

Coalition U Party Senator Armando Benedetti introduced the initiative which has been debated in Congress since Tuesday.

Euthanasia was decriminalized in Colombia in 1997 but proper regulation has not been introduced until now.

Benedetti made a previous attempt to regulate the practice in 2007, but was unsuccessful.

The proposed regulations in Colombia stated that only a medical professional can perform euthanasia or assist with a patient’s suicide, according to Benedetti’s website.

The senator also placed importance on the “state’s duty to protect life.” According to the new bill, rigorous procedures including psychiatric assessment and councilling must be adhered to before the patient can make an informed decision.

Only Colombian nationals or foreign residents can avail of the practice as a measure to prevent euthanasia tourism.

Supporters of euthanasia maintain it gives people who are suffering the choice of a dignified death.

Opponents of the practice include the Catholic Church, which condemns euthanasia as a “crime against life.”

Source: Colombia Reports