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Euthanasia With Patient Consent Approved by German Court

by Kathy Jones on June 25, 2010 at 10:20 PM
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 Euthanasia With Patient Consent Approved by German Court

In a landmark case, the German Federal Court of Justice overturned the conviction of a lawyer who advised the family of a comatose elderly woman to cut off her feeding tube.

The case involved 71-year-old Erika Kuellmer who, after a cerebral haemorrhage in October 2002, slipped into a vegetative state and, confined to a nursing home, was fed through a tube for five years.

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Although Kuellmer had expressed the wish not to be kept alive under such circumstances in a so-called living will, the home refused to let her die.

On the advice of her lawyer, Kuellmer's daughter finally snipped the feeding tube with a pair of scissors and she died two days later of "natural causes", according to an autopsy.
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A lower court acquitted the daughter of killing her mother because she had "mistakenly" followed her lawyer's advice. But the attorney, Wolfgang Putz, was convicted and given a nine-month suspended sentence.

The federal tribunal found that Putz, a prominent patients' rights advocate, had acted legally and in the patient's interest because she had clearly expressed her wish not to be kept alive artificially.

Chief justice Ruth Rissing-van Saan had said when agreeing to hear the case that the court aimed to define the line between "killing" and "natural death".

Source: AFP
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