Germany, Latest Country to Wrestle with Assisted Suicide
Germany's highest criminal court has ruled that passive assisted suicide is legal if the patient has explicitly decreed his or her wish that treatment used to keep the patient alive should be terminated.
"Turning off a ventilator or cutting a feeding tube fall under the category of permissable forms of terminating treatment," judge Ruth Rissing van Saan said.
The ruling by the Federal Court of Justice refers to a case involving Erika Kuellmer, a then terminally-ill patient in her seventies, who had been in a coma for five years. Prior to becoming unconscious, she indicated to her daughter that she would not want to be kept alive should she fall into a coma.
On the advice of her solicitor Wolfgang Putz, who specializes in medical law, the daughter tried to help her die by cutting the tube that was feeding her mother. But staff at the care home intervened and the patient survived another two weeks before dying a natural death.