French Euthanasia Trial Begins as Practice Spreads Across Europe

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 13, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

French Euthanasia Trial Begins as Practice Spreads Across Europe Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 13
, 2007

Paris, France ( — Advocates of assisted suicide always claimed that legalizing the practice in nations like the Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium would never open the door for euthanasia. But a French doctor and nurse are the latest on trial for killing a patient without his consent in what is becoming an epidemic across the continent.

Laurence Tramois, a doctor, and Chantal Chanel, a nurse, both were the subjects of a trial that begin on Monday morning concerning the death of a 65-year-old patient.

They stand accused of poisoning Paulette Druais, who was suffering from terminal pancreatic cancer.

The pair have admitted their guilt but are challenging anti-euthanasia laws in France. They say they only killed Druais to end her life because of the pain she was enduring. Druais’ family supported the decision but the hospital that employed them filed charges.

They could face as much as 30 years in prison if found guilty, according to a Reuters report.

The case has thrown France into a national euthanasia debate as more than 2,000 doctors and nurses signed a petition last week saying they had also engaged in euthanasia. Reuters reported them as wanting the nation’s law changed.

France’s presidential campaign has also seen the impact of the euthanasia case as the opposition Socialist Party has taken a position in favor of overturning French laws protecting patients from euthanasia.

The case follows on the heels of others in Europe where medical staff killed patients.

In December, a Czech Republic nurse admitted to killing seven patients and attempting to murder ten more. Petr Zelenka claimed he wanted to "test" the knowledge of the patient’s doctors.

In November, a German nurse, Stephan Letter, was found guilty of 12 counts of murder, 15 counts of manslaughter and one count of illegal mercy killing.

In July, Lucia de Berk was sentenced to life in prison for killing seven patients by poisoning.