Medically Assisted Suicide

Germany Faces a Dilemma Regarding Assisted Suicide: Bundestag Rejects Two Draft Laws

Since the decriminalization of assisted suicide in 2020, 9,215 cases have been registered in Germany of individuals choosing this path to end their lives.

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Joachin Meisner Hertz

(ZENIT News / Berlin, 07.20.2023).- The topic of assisted suicide has sparked a heated debate in Germany since the country’s Constitutional Court abolished the total prohibition on this practice in 2020. The Court urged the Parliament to regulate the matter, but recently, two draft laws presented in the Bundestag were rejected due to a lack of an absolute majority.

The legal void resulting from the abolition of the prohibition has led experts, jurists, and theologians to call for clear regulations on assisted suicide in the country. The Karlsruhe Constitutional Court deemed the previous prohibition unconstitutional, arguing that it limited individuals’ right to decide about their own deaths, including the option to end their lives with medical assistance.

In an attempt to address this complex issue, the political sphere presented two draft laws to the 736 members of the Bundestag. Both proposals were rejected as none of them reached the required absolute majority. The first proposal, put forward by the Social Democrat Lars Castellucci and the Christian Democrat Ansgar Eveling, aimed to establish regulations and obligations for the process of assisted suicide. It included the mandatory requirement for patients to consult a psychologist and a psychiatrist, as well as the introduction of a minimum 8-week period to make definitive decisions.

On the other hand, the second proposal, promoted by the Liberal Kathrin Helling-Plahr and the Green Renate Künast, sought to grant more discretion and decision-making power to both patients and the medical professionals and family members involved in the process. Some media outlets have compared this proposal with existing regulations for abortion.

The debate in the Bundestag has revealed divisions within the German political sphere regarding how to address the issue of assisted suicide. Some factions advocate for more permissive legislation that guarantees freedom of choice for patients and medical practitioners. Conversely, a prevailing stance seeks a more restrictive law, aiming to prevent potential abuses and safeguard the lives and dignity of those involved.

Despite the rejection of these draft laws, the discussion is far from over, and it is expected that the topic will be revisited in the future. Monsignor Georg Bätzing, the President of the German Episcopal Conference, has emphasized the importance of always protecting human life, while some proponents of assisted suicide argue that the freedom to decide about one’s own end of life is a fundamental right.

Since the decriminalization of assisted suicide in 2020, 9,215 cases have been registered in Germany of individuals choosing this path to end their lives. As the country continues its search for a legislative solution, the ethical and legal debate surrounding assisted suicide will remain a highly relevant topic for German society.

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