Criticism on German euthanasia bill arises


Central Europe


A patient converses with a psychiatrist during a consultation in Belgium where euthanasia is possible to discuss her death wish. Photo AFP, Simon Wohlfahrt

The German Bundestag will discuss the possibilities of a new end-of-life law on Thursday. But the Protestant Church disagrees with that.

The Protestant Church of Germany does not support the two proposals that are up for debate. A statement of the church read on Thursday that the EKD is "resolutely committed to the protection of life and to legal regulations that serve this goal."

Taking one's own life or helping others doing so should not become a "social normality", Annette Kurschus, the chairwoman of the EKD Council, emphasised. Therefore, she pleads first and foremost for more legal and extra-legal measures to strengthen suicide prevention and palliative care.

Deadly drugs

Currently, there are two proposals on the German debate table. The first one is an initiative from Katrin Helling-Plahr and Renate Künast, who want to make assisted suicide possible for everyone who is capable of decision-making and whose death wish is permanent. The second one comes from Lars Castellucci, who wants to make psychotherapeutic assessment a prerequisite for the impunity of dispensing deadly drugs.

Social discourse

Also, the German Medical Association is critical of the proposed legislation. The President of the Association, Klaus Reinhardt, even took the politicians to court last Wednesday, PRO reports. He is especially critical of the fact that the German government wants to vote on the topic before the summer holiday. According to Reinhardt, a thorough discussion in Parliament and a social discourse on the drafts is impossible in such a short time limit.

Instead, Reinhardt strongly believes that good end-of-life legislation must be preceded by a national suicide prevention program, PRO writes. He points out that the majority of suicides follow after depression. The German Medical Association, however, is in favour of Castellucci's end-of-life proposal.

Suicidal wishes

Also, psychiatrist Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg is not a fan of the end-of-life draft, especially the one from Helling-Plahr. Meyer-Lindenberg is the director of the Central Institute for Mental Health and sees the proposal as a "serious threat to people with mental illnesses." He points out that a simple consultation is not enough to protect people with suicidal wishes, which are inconsistent.

The head of the German Society for Palliative Medicine says to be disappointed by both drafts. He is worried that "the suicide assistance organisations will be promoted by such a structure." According to him, no law is better than any of the two proposals.


The action group “Lebensrecht für alle” (Right to life for all, ALfA) is also critical of the fact that the Bundestag is in such a hurry to push the new law through. Therefore, the organisation has started an action, Idea reports. It hands out postcards that citizens can send to MPs to show their displeasure about how things are going.


ALfA chairwoman Cornelia Kaminski pointed out that the draft laws were only recently written and published. Therefore, she argues, it is not possible for Parliament and society to have enough time to deal with it thoroughly.

Kaminski believes that none of the bills sufficiently answers the question of how the misuse of lethal substances is prevented. Or the question of how to make 100 per cent sure that the death wish comes from the person himself.

Whether the Bundestag will take into account the worries that exist about the procedure and the euthanasia draft laws remains to be seen.



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