Spanish woman moved from Catholic hospital to die

A bedridden Spanish woman who suffered from muscular dystrophy for more than twenty years has died at her own request after she was transferred from a Catholic to a state hospital where her respirator was switched off.

The West Australian reports that Immaculada Echeverria, 51, from the southern city of Granada, won her right to end her life under a law which grants the right to refuse treatment.

She died on Thursday morning Australian time after her life support was switched off, the regional department of Andalucia said.

Echevarria had progressive muscular dystrophy and had been on a respirator for the past ten years. She had fell sick at age 11 and for the last 20 years she had been in a hospital bed.

"For me, life stopped having meaning a long time ago. I want them to help me die because I have spent my whole life suffering," Echevarria told reporters last year when her case got media attention in support on the rights of people with incurable diseases to seek help in dying.

"At least I know that this will end, that I am going to be free," she had said after being told that the Andalusian regional government had authorised her to refuse the treatment keeping her alive, Playfuls reports.

"My life is full of empty spaces, of silence," she explained earlier. "Loneliness is worse than the physical pain."

The plans to allow her to die had been met with protests by the Catholic Church, with Cardinal Antonio Canizares criticising them as an "attack against dignity and human life."

Spanish woman's respirator turned off (The West Australian, 15/3/07)
Spaniard's Longed-for Death Sparks Euthanasia Debate (Playfuls, 15/3/07)

Paper praises euthanasia protest doctor (CathNews, 7/3/07)

16 Mar 2007

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