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Arrest of man who helped wife to die reignites assisted suicide debate

Catalan health minister calls for change in legislation to allow terminally ill people the right to a dignified death

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05 April 2019 07:19 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

The arrest of a man in Madrid who helped his wife of 30 years who was suffering from multiple sclerosis to kill herself has put the issue of assisted suicide back in the spotlight.

Catalan health minister, Alba Vergés, on Friday called for an "immediate" debate on the issue, and a change in the law to allow terminally ill people the right to a dignified death.

Vergés also pointed out that in 2017, Parliament passed a bill aimed at decriminalizing assisted suicide that was later blocked by the PP and Cs conservative parties.

The minister also said that 93,000 people in Catalonia had signed up to the register of living wills (DVA), a pioneering initiative in Spain launched in 2002 by the Catalan government.

  • “He always said he was not going to do it covertly, he wanted to shine a light on this issue"

    Olatz Alberdi · Hernández's lawyer

According to Vergés, between 23 and 25 living wills -also known as directives to physicians- are registered every day, in the most part by women (62%).

These documents allow people to state their wishes for end-of-life medical care in the event that they become unable to communicate their decisions to doctors and relatives.

Ángel Hernández was arrested on Thursday, and then released, after he confessed that he had helped his partner, María José Carrasco, 61, to bring her life to an end.

Hernández released a video showing that Carrasco, whose illness had reached a terminal stage, had chosen to end her life “the sooner the better," as she says in the video.

The video shows Hernández helping Carrasco, who had spent three decades fighting multiple sclerosis, to swallow a lethal dose of sodium pentobarbital through a straw.

“He always said he was not going to do it covertly, he wanted to shine a light on this issue,” explained Hernández's lawyer, Olatz Alberdi.

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  • Ángel Hernández (right) was arrested for helping his wife María José Carrasco end her life

  • Ángel Hernández (right) was arrested for helping his wife María José Carrasco end her life

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