Thursday, July 6, 2023

German Bundestag rejects assisted suicide bills

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Protesters at the German Bundestag reported on July 6 that the German Bundestag rejected two proposals to legislate assisted suicide. According to the report:
Two groups of parliamentarians put forward proposals on the issue, which were subject to a free vote.

For one group, Katrin Helling-Plahr of the business-focused Free Democratic Party (FDP) said there were many people who wanted to decide to die when the right time for them had come, and that they should be able to do so without fear of legal repercussions.

Center-left Social Democrat (SPD) politician Lars Castellucci, speaking for the other group, said it was important to make assisted suicide possible without encouraging it.

He said anyone providing organized possibilities for suicide without adhering to a fixed concept of protecting the vulnerable should be liable for penalties.

Both proposals shared the aim of creating a legal framework for giving those wanting to commit suicide access to the lethal drugs they need. They would also allow assisted suicide only in the case of those who have reached legal maturity.

In addition, the two groups proposed increasing suicide prevention aid services, including with a nationwide hotline for those having suicidal thoughts and their relatives.
In February 2020, Germany's high court overturned the assisted suicide law by creating a "right to a self-determined death

Section 217 of the German criminal code which prohibits assisted suicide was changed by the February 2020 German Supreme Court decision recognizing a right to self-determined death, which included the freedom to take one’s own life.

Section 216 of the German criminal code which prohibits euthanasia "killing on request" was not changed by the German Supreme Court decision.

In February, 2022 a German court in Münster upheld a restriction to assisted suicide by deciding that people do not have the right to purchase lethal drugs for suicide. explained the current situation:
The two initiatives arose from a landmark ruling of Germany's Consitutional Court in 2020 that overturned a ban on organized assisted suicide as being a violation of the right of any individual to die on her or his own terms.

That ruling means that assisting someone to die at their own wish is legal in Germany, but that there are currently no laws regulating how this can be done.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition believes that passing an assisted suicide bill will create a framework for approving assisted suicide. The court struck down the German law prohibiting assisted suicide in February 2020, but there have been very few assisted suicide deaths. Creating a legal framework will lead to more deaths by assisted suicide and the law will inevitably be challenged in the courts by groups wanting to expand it.


Voice of Gone Ballistic said...

I am confused. The title of the post seems to be amiss with what was reported.
Germany says one can commit suicide.
Someone who commits suicide can be assisted.
So the law is circumvented because those that want to commit suicide can't legally buy the drugs.
This is compounding.
Can you explain.

Alex Schadenberg said...

The article is clear. The German Bundestag rejected two proposed bills to legalize assisted suicide. The decision of the German Bundestag is very different from court decision in February 2020.

The Bundestag may decide not to regulate suicide.