German Bundestag wipes euthanasia proposals off the table


Central Europe

René Zeeman, RD

A general view of a session of the German Bundestag in Berlin, Germany. It rejected both euthanasia proposals that were on the table. Photo EPA, Filip Singer

The Bundestag voted on Thursday morning on euthanasia reform in Germany. Deputies rejected both bills.

The first bill came from a group of Bundestag members around Lars Castellucci (SPD) and Ansgar Heveling (CDU). They wanted to regulate a legal ban on organised assisted suicide and euthanasia through criminal law. As far as they were concerned, organised death assistance would be allowed if the person in question is an adult and knows what to expect. He or she must have been examined at least twice by a psychologist, and a counselling session must have been conducted. The group wants to rule out social pressure. It must also be certain that a person is not in mental distress. This bill was rejected on Thursday morning with 304 votes in favour, 363 against and 23 abstentions.

The second bill came from a group around Katrin Helling-Plahr (FDP) and Renate Künast (Greens). They wanted euthanasia to no longer fall within criminal law. They believe that people who want euthanasia should have access to means by which they can end their lives. Prior to that, a counselling session must have taken place. This bill was also voted down, with 287 votes in favour, 375 against and 20 abstentions.

Virtually impossible

The German parliament was forced to find a new regulation on euthanasia as Germany's Constitutional Court annulled euthanasia paragraph 217 in 2020. The paragraph, according to the court ruling, violated the personality right of citizens enshrined in the constitution. "This includes the right to decide when to die," one of the judges said. Section 217 made assisted dying virtually impossible.

The ruling by the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe was made when Angela Merkel was still Chancellor. She could not take up the case because the court ruled that a broad public debate on euthanasia had to take place first. That is what happened. An exchange of views and thoughts followed via the media.


In Germany, euthanasia is a very sensitive topic. The term reminds Germans of the hundreds of thousands of physically and mentally disabled people the Nazis killed. Germans, therefore, use the term Sterbehilfe, or aid in dying.

The German Patient Protection Foundation rejected any draft law. It argues that the right of self-determination of people who want to die and protection against abuse by others is far too complex to be enshrined in law.



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