Indian nurse dies after 42-year coma following sexual assault

Hospital authorities in India said Monday that a nurse who had been in a coma for 42 years after a violent sexual assault had died. 

Pravin Bangar, medical superintendent at Mumbai's King Edward Memorial Hospital, told reporters that Aruna Shanbaug had been diagnosed with pneumonia and had been on a life support system for the past few days.

Shanbaug was in a vegetative state after suffering brain damage when she was raped and strangled by a hospital worker in 1973 at the age of 25. She had been kept alive with a feeding tube.

Shanbaug's case sparked a debate over India's euthanasia laws after a Mumbai lawyer petitioned the courts to withdraw her feeding tube so her suffering would not be prolonged. The case was opposed by nurses at the hospital who took turns taking care of her for more than four decades.

A three-member medical panel set up by India's Supreme Court denied the petition, but instituted guidelines for passive euthanasia in Indian law. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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