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German court OKs assisted suicide in some cases

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • German court says assisted suicide allowed if patient wishes to end treatment
  • Case involved daughter who cut her mom's feeding tube
  • The accused was acting on advice of a lawyer, who also was charged
  • Attempted manslaughter charges were dropped

(CNN) -- A German court on Friday absolved a women who cut the feeding tube of her mother, who was in a persistent vegetative state, saying passive assisted suicide is legal in cases where the patient has expressed the desire to die.

The case involved a terminally ill woman in her 70s who told her daughter and son in September 2002 that her wish was to be taken off any life-extending treatment if she fell into a coma.

The woman went into a vegetative state one month later and five years of end-of-life discussions ensued between the children and officials at the nursing home where their mother was a patient.

In December 2007, the daughter, acting on the advice of a medical lawyer, cut the feeding tube with the help of her brother, who has since died. Officials at the nursing home rushed the woman to a hospital, where a new feeding tube was put in.

The daughter and lawyer were charged with attempted manslaughter. The unconscious woman died two weeks later.

The German court ruled the daughter acted legally in carrying out her mother's wish to die. The lawyer also was absolved.