Assisted Suicide

Patients Allowed to Say No to Treatment

A chronically ill 31-year old woman will be allowed to terminate her life-sustaining treatment, according to a clarification made by the Swedish Board of Health and Welfare.

The woman was born with a neurological disease which worsens over time. She has only been able to breathe with the help of a respirator since the age of six.

In March this year, she wrote a letter to the Board of Health and Welfare, asking to be allowed to turn the respirator off, and for her to be under anaesthetic when it happens. This is the only way for her to die with dignity, she says, and avoid being slowly suffocated while fully conscious.

Assisted suicide is not allowed in Sweden, but on Monday, the Board of Health and Welfare called a press conference to say that it has come to the conclusion that - provided a patient is aware and able to understand the consequences of the decision - he or she is allowed to terminate a life-sustaining treatment, since no one can be forced to have a treatment against their will.

The patient is also allowed to be put to sleep with the help of an anaesthetic as this is part of good care, the board announced.

"I am very happy, and feel at peace," the woman told the Expressen newspaper's website.

The clarification from the Board of Health and Welfare also concerns two other patients, who have written to the Board in similar matters.

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