Euthanasia Group Under Investigation After Doctor Killed Health Patient

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 25, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 25, 2005

Augsberg, Germany ( — German officials are investigating the Swiss euthanasia organization Dignitas after one of its German doctors committed suicide following his discovery that he euthanized a healthy patient. The organized asked the doctor to kill the woman after she came to them bearing a false medical report claiming she was terminally ill.

Although her supposed medical report showed her having cirrhosis of the liver, an autopsy revealed she didn’t and officials said the woman only suffered from depression.

The woman obtained the fake report from her general practitioner in Augsburg, by telling him she was going to use it as a basis for a sick leave from her job. The doctor told German officials he had no idea she would use it to contract an assisted suicide from Dignitas.

Hans-Juergen Kolb, Augsburg’s senior public prosecutor, has launched an investigation into the conduct of both doctors and is working with Swiss authorities who are already looking into the case.

"Post mortem reports have already shown that she was not suffering from irreversible liver damage, and if we find that her mental health was in doubt the charges could be more serious," Kolb said, according to a report from the NewsInferno service.

Despite the German autopsy showing her in good physical health, Minelli, the founder of Dignitas, claims the woman really did suffer from cirrhosis of the liver as well as hepatitis.

"And in any case every person in Europe has the right to choose to die, even if they are not terminally ill," he said.

Regional justice minister for Lower Saxony, Elisabeth Heister-Neumann is upset by the case and says Minelli’s group is just looking to make a profit.

"Making poisonous cocktails available has deviated into pure business, and medical reports are being misused as an excuse" she said. As a result, people are being euthanized regardless of what they are suffering from, if anything," she said.

Dignitas says it has been responsible for 453 assisted suicides since forming in 1998 and the Swiss group has opened a second office in Hanover, Germany.