"If I started to forget about loving, I would also like to stop living." Maribel Tellaetxe (Barakaldo, 1943) made them promise to her husband, Txema Lorente and her children, David, Rut and Danel Aser, that they were going to fulfill their last will. With the diagnosis of Alzheimer's in his hand he made it clear that he did not want to continue living if the disease made him lose his head. "You have to make me a promise: the day I do not remember one of your names, that first day that you see that I confuse you, that you do not know how you call yourselves, please do not wait for me to forget you, to not recognize you as children or that does not recognize aita (dad). That day you have to help me to leave, "he told one of his children. The Town Hall of Portugalete is in solidarity today with her and her family and has approved with the vote of all parties, PSE, PNV, EH Bildu and Elkarrekin Podemos, the only PP councilor has voted against an institutional statement calling for decriminalization of euthanasia.
Maribel forced her loved ones to promise him. In 2006 he wrote them a letter and in January of 2017, when he already verified that the advance of the disease was exponential, he wrote and recorded an document with your anticipated wills in which he claimed to be helped to die. Then he thought that, perhaps, when his time came, Spain would be like Holland, Belgium or Luxembourg, the three countries of the EU where euthanasia is legal. But that legislation does not advance in Spain. The proposed law of the PSOE that regulates it is admitted for processing in the Congress of Deputies, but is still blocked by opposition parties.
Txema, David, Rut and Danel fight to get as much support as possible so that they can take their course in the Health Commission of Congress and finally achieve the decriminalization of euthanasia and the regulation of assisted suicide. Overcome the initial modesty to air his drama and open his house to anyone who wants to share their problems, are 100% involved in fulfilling their last wills. Now that at the other end of Maribel's eyes there is no memory "it's time to fight to fulfill what was promised," says David.
The first of last December began the campaign against the decriminalization of euthanasia in Change.org and they have already collected more than 160,000 signatures. Today they will thank the Municipality of Portugalete for almost unanimous support for their demands, even if it is more symbolic than effective. The socialist councilor of the City Council, Mikel Torres, will read an institutional declaration in which, in addition to the decriminalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide, they will request the repeal of article 143.4 of the penal code - so that those who help to die can be exempt from responsibility "in a safe, peaceful and pain "to a person who asks for it" free, express and unequivocal "-.
The Right to Dying Dignitarily Association DMD, has asked the Spanish city councils to join the petition to decriminalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. The first to do so was in Barcelona and then followed by several Catalans, explains the spokesperson for DMD in the Basque Country, Concha Castells. "The one from Portugalete is the first in Euskadi that supports these claims of a neighbor. This Thursday we will be in Portugalete to support the family and thank the municipality for its commitment to this cause, "said Castell.
Maribel no longer knows what piano is for filling a wall of her house, even though her husband, Txema Lorente, has been playing for 42 years and directing a vocal and instrumental music group, Barbis Taldea, who has already recorded several albums. Neither does he recognize his loved ones. He barely speaks and his contact with the outside world is limited to open his mouth to eat and look, possibly without seeing the extraordinary views of the Bilbao Estuary and the Suspension Bridge at the other end of his window, on the eighth floor of a central street of Portugalete. "It's so cruel," David explains.
The children of this woman who spent most of their lives, know that fulfilling their wishes leads them to a crossroads, if a legislative reform does not take place before. They explain that if they help him to stop suffering and fulfill his wish "we go to jail". "If we are still free" it is because her mother "continues to suffer without rest".
Danel is finishing a documentary that reflects the day to day life of this family. They want to present it to various festivals to raise awareness among citizens about Alzheimer's. They hope that Spain is the fourth EU country that legalizes active euthanasia. The Netherlands became in 2001 the first in the world to do so, Belgium was the second in 2002 and Luxembourg the third in 2009.
In the Netherlands euthanasia is not considered a crime as long as the doctor acts with strict criteria: that the patient is subjected to unbearable suffering without any prospect of improvement, that he has unequivocally expressed his will to die and that the doctor ask a second opinion to another colleague. The doctor is then obliged to inform immediately one of the five regional commissions formed by a doctor, a jurist and an ethicist who will study the case and judge whether the requirements have been respected. "It is not impossible, we will fight to get it, so that sooner or later their last wills will be fulfilled," explains David.