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French court convicts doctor in euthanasia case

[JURIST] A French court convicted a doctor for the poisoning death of a terminally ill cancer patient Thursday. Dr. Laurence Tramois was sentenced to a one-year suspended prison sentence for prescribing a fatal dose of potassium chloride that resulted in the death of Paulette Drualis in August 23, 2003. The case has stirred debate over the issue of euthanasia in the current French presidential race; Segolene Royal [BBC profile], candidate of France's Parti Socialiste [party website], has indicated that she will push for a new law to allow euthanasia under certain circumstances. Nicolas Sarkozy [BBC profile], candidate for the ruling conservative Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) [party website], has also suggested of a future law allowing euthanasia. Francois Bayrou [BBC profile], the candidate of the center-right Union pour la Democratie Francaise (UDP) [party website], has also indicated support for legalizing euthanasia, saying Monday that such decisions are medical in nature and should be reserved for doctors and patients, not the law. France's two-round presidential elections are slated to take place on April 22 and May 6.

On Wednesday, Inmaculada Echevarria, a Spanish women who had suffered muscular dystrophy for 40 years, was allowed to have doctors disconnect her breathing machine in a case that highlighted the issue of euthanasia [JURIST news archive] in Spain, where the practice also remains illegal. Government authorities allowed the procedure because Echevarria's case technically involved a refusal of medical treatment. Assisted suicide has been legalized in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland [reports]. A proposed bill that would legalize the option of assisted suicide in the United Kingdom was set aside by the House of Lords [JURIST report] in May of last year following opposition from the public and two physician groups [JURIST report]. In January of last year, the US Supreme Court upheld Oregon's Death with Dignity Act [JURIST report], the only American state law that allows physician-assisted suicide. AP has more.

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