German Ethics Council: Assisted suicide is justifiable


Central Europe


Photo Facebook, Deutscher Ethikrat

A person's wish to die in a self-determined way should be respected. That is the opinion of the German Ethics Council, which gave its view on the debate on assisted suicide.

The German Ethics Council does not yet give concrete recommendations or feedback on several proposals on the table, the Council writes in a statement. Instead, it shares its opinion on assisted suicide in general, which it deems to be justifiable.

According to the German Ethics Council, "the free responsibility of a decision must be strictly distinguished from the moral correctness of the decision result. The value of the person concerned must be fully respected when assessing free responsibility, even when they deviate significantly from the generally prevailing ideas in society." That is reported by PRO.

However, in addition to stressing that suicide assistance may only occur when the choice for death is voluntary, the Ethics Council does not give any specific recommendations.

Not a private matter

Instead, it stresses that the wish for suicide is not a private matter but concerns society. The Council suggests that the debate on assisted suicide should focus on "avoiding situations in life that people at least subjectively experience as unbearable." Therefore, the Council argues that doctors, social centres, nursing services and clinics should offer reasonable alternatives to suicide.

The chairwoman of the Ethics Council, Alena Buyx, says that external factors, such as society and the social context in which a person finds himself, strongly influence his suicidal thoughts. Therefore, the Council finds that assisted suicide legislation does not "relieve the state and society of the responsibility to counteract emergencies. They must try as far as possible to ensure that people do not get into and remain in situations where they see death as the lesser evil than life."

"Debate in right order"

The statement of the Ethics Council lacks a reference to the responsibility of the state to guarantee the protection of life", says Uwe Heimowski to PRO. Heimowski is the policy officer of the Protestant Alliance in Germany (EAD). He is disappointed because, in his view, the Council's voice is hardly different from the legal requirements of the Federal Constitutional Court.

CDU politician and former Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe says that the Ethics Council puts the euthanasia debate in the correct order: "The prevention of suicide is above all." He stresses that desperate people must be protected from a climate where the impression arises that suicide is desirable.



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.