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SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Anjel smrti

IT IS not often that both main tabloids in the country share the same opening headline. This week they did: “Anjel smrti”, the Angel of Death. Yes, Slovakia is on a streak. Within months of finding its first mass murderer and its first cannibal, there is the first angel of death. You have to wonder what’s next. A resurrection of Jack the Ripper?

Slovakia's law bans all forms of euthanasia or assisted suicide. (Source: Sme - Tomáš Benedikovič)

IT IS not often that both main tabloids in the country share the same opening headline. This week they did: “Anjel smrti”, the Angel of Death. Yes, Slovakia is on a streak. Within months of finding its first mass murderer and its first cannibal, there is the first angel of death. You have to wonder what’s next. A resurrection of Jack the Ripper?

The case of the male nurse who confessed to administering a lethal injection to a patient at a Bratislava intensive care unit is different from the two previous cases not only in that the perpetrator survived but also that his intent didn’t necessarily have to be malicious. It is far from clear whether we have here a copycat of the Czech “heparin killer”, who was found guilty of murdering seven people and attempting to kill at least ten more, and whose main motivation seemed to be a desire to play god. So far, the suspect claims he just wanted to ease the suffering of the patient. It remains unclear whether she was in a condition to ask him to help her die.

The uncertainty is to a great extent the result of improper legislation that bans all forms of euthanasia. Doctors privately admit that in extreme cases, medical staff help terminal patients die. But under current laws, they risk the same penalty as a murderer. This case illustrates why it would help to legalise a practice that is anyway a part of life. That way there would be no doubts about who is a killer and who is just trying to help others end their suffering. Because it seems that angels, too, sometimes have to take care of dark tasks.


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