Case Report

International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 117, Issue 2, pp 106-108

Assisted suicide bordering on active euthanasia

  • G. BosshardAffiliated withInstitute of Legal Medicine, University of Zurich-Irchel Email author 
  • , D. JerminiAffiliated withInstitute of Legal Medicine, University of Zurich-Irchel
  • , D. EisenhartAffiliated withInstitute of Legal Medicine, University of Zurich-Irchel
  • , W. BärAffiliated withInstitute of Legal Medicine, University of Zurich-Irchel

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Abstract

A 44-year-old woman was almost completely paralysed after a severe brainstem haemorrhage. Even after several years of efforts at rehabilitation, she remained completely dependent on the help of others. However, a special device enabled her to administer (after careful preparation) liquids through the PEG catheter despite her poorly coordinated movements. Four years after the stroke, the woman joined a right-to-die society with the wish to bring her life to an end. A doctor working with this organisation prescribed her a lethal dose of pentobarbital. In the presence of her husband and her companion from the organisation, the woman administered herself the lethal substance by means of the device. On the basis of the fact that she herself had switched the device on this death was classed as (assisted) suicide.

Keywords

Voluntary active euthanasia Assisted suicide Pentobarbital