Lover Confesses to Assisted Suicide That Prompted "The Sea Inside"

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 12, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 12, 2005

Madrid, Spain ( — Ramon Sampedro became Spain’s infamous euthanasia advocate after he was paralyzed in a diving accident. His life inspired the recent movie "The Sea Inside" that has received international acclaim.

What has been less obvious for years are the circumstances surrounding his death. After being bedridden for thirty years, Sampedro took a lethal cyanide cocktail and killed himself.

But who provided him with the goods to take his own life?

That mystery was answered when Ramona Maneiro, who never owned up to the act to avoid prosecution, told a television talk show that she was responsible.

"I did it for love," Maneiro, Sampedro’s love interest and companion in his final months, admitted.

Protected by a statute of limitations that prevents being charged in the death, Maneiro told the television show: "I measured the cyanide. I put it in the water. I put the straw in the glass and I put it where he could sip it. I was his hands. I did what he asked."

She was charged with assisting a suicide in 1998, but was released for lack of proof.

Because of Sampedro’s popularity with euthanasia advocates, thousands of Spaniards came forward claiming they helped him die, confounding police efforts.

Sampedro is credited with devising a scheme by which the various tasks of preparing the lethal cocktail would be divided up among friends so no one person would be guilty of violating Spain’s anti-euthanasia laws.

Maneiro spoke up because she wanted to "stop people speculating who did it," she said on the show.

In the final moments of Sampedro’s life, Maneiro said she expected him to peacefully slip into unconsciousness. However, his death was not so easy and she confessed she felt sick and had to rush to the bathroom.

The movie, which is being considered for an Oscar and awards at the Golden Globes, has reignited the euthanasia debate in Spain. It took the best foreign film award at the Venice film festival.

The Catholic Church in Spain has said it would oppose any attempts to legalize the grisly practice.

The movie, known in Spanish as "Mar Adentro" has flopped at the box office in the United States.

The film has generated little enthusiasm from movie-goers taking in just $55,000 at 23 locations nationwide. The Spanish-language drama, starring Javier Bardem, averaged a paltry $2,391 per theater.

That’s less than virtually ever other movie currently at the box office — including others being distributed on a limited basis.