German church criticises draft legislation on assisted suicide


Western Europe


Annette Kurschus. Photo AFP, Oliver Berg

The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and the Diaconia Germany (Diakonie Deutschland) have criticised the current draft legislation on assisted suicide.

The reason for the criticism was an orientation debate of the German Parliament on 18 May, German Protestant news agency IDEA writes. The discussion resulted from the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court in February 2020 to overturn the ban on assisted suicide introduced in 2015. The judges declared that there is a comprehensive right to self-determined dying. It includes the freedom to call on the help of third parties.

So far, three groups of MPs have each submitted a draft for the new regulation. According to the proposal of liberal FDP politician Katrin Helling-Plahr, doctors can prescribe "drugs for suicide" to those willing to die if they have previously undergone "open-ended and non-patronising counselling" at a recognised counselling centre. Green Party politicians Renate Künast and Katja Keul propose that doctor should be able to prescribe the lethal substance after a counselling session if the suicidal person is in a distressing medical situation. The strictest regulations come from Lars Castellucci, the SPD parliamentary group's spokesperson on religious policy, and CDU MP Ansgar Heveling. According to their draft, assisted suicide would only be allowed after two examinations – at an interval of at least three months– by an independent psychiatrist. In the meantime, the suicidal person must seek counselling in a consultation.

In a joint statement by the EKD and Diakonie EKD, Council President Annette Kurschus declared that suicide prevention "must take precedence over everything else". According to her, prevention must begin well before assisted suicide and include the prevention of social isolation. The President of Diakonie, Ulrich Lilie, demanded that counselling services also be available to relatives of suicidal persons. For them, suicide can also be a burden.



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