A German court made a landmark ruling in favor of euthanasia today, overturning the conviction of a lawyer who’d advised a family to cut a comatose relation’s feeding tube. The patient, 71-year-old Erika Kuellmer, had made it clear she didn’t want to be kept alive if she ever fell into a persistent vegetative state, but her nursing home refused to let her die.
After 5 years, Kuellmer’s daughter cut the tube with a pair of scissors, while her brother looked on. The daughter was acquitted of attempted manslaughter, however, because she had “mistakenly” followed the lawyer’s advice, while the lawyer was convicted. But today the court’s chief justice ruled that the woman’s desire not to be treated was binding. Such decisions are touchy in Germany, Reuters explains, because the Nazis used “euthanasia” as a euphemism for the mass killing of the disabled.