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Thursday, March 24, 2005

"Even in liberal Holland, she'd get to live."


Europeans Reflect on Schiavo Case

The legislative and judicial battle over a Florida man's right to end his comatose wife's life has drawn some surprise reaction in Europe, where legal sympathy for euthanasia is widespread.

On a continent where physician-assisted death is far more commonplace than in the United States, the case of Terri Schiavo has struck a chord.

...European countries like the Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium allow physician-assisted death in various incarnations. In Holland alone, about 2,000 people die through assistance from their doctor each year. But Schiavo wouldn't be one of them.

...Dutch laws, like those in Switzerland and Belgium, require that the patient clearly and insistently request death. Schiavo, had she ever requested death should she fall into a vegetative state, did not insist on it. For this reason, even relatively socially liberal groups, like the Union of Protestant Churches in Germany, or the German Medical Association, have not recommended removing Schiavo's feeding tube. [Ed. Note: my emphasis]

..."The patient's doctors are required to continue to treat her and to feed her, because it's not clear what will happen next with her illness," said Jörg-Dietrich Hoppe (photo, right), the head of the German Medical Association.

...Hoppe said there have been cases "of people who lived for 20 years in a 'waking coma' and then later came back to consciousness. The patient is certainly not dead." [Ed. Note: my emphasis]

...Fifteen years ago, Holland had a case similar to Schiavo's. A judge allowed the husband of Ineke Stinissen, who had been in a coma for several years, to remove her feeding tube. She died of starvation, and her case paved the way for Holland's pro-euthanasia legislation. [Ed. Note: my emphasis]

...In Germany, Schiavo's case would have gone to court much in the same way it did in the US. German law forbids doctors to actively assist in a patient's suicide but allows them to passively allow death if the patient clearly wills it. But Ruth Mattheis, the former head of the medical association and a doctor for more than 50 years said she could not remember such a case ever making it to trial.

Author: Erik Campano (dre) © Deutsche Welle
Thanks to my cousin Ellen for this heads-up and link.

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