Austria does not listen to doubters about euthanasia


Central Europe


Photo ANP, Rob Engelaar

Church experts in Austria are disappointed about the lack of consideration that the authorities give to serious questions about the “death disposal proposals”.

The Catholic Press Agency writes that the government received 138 statements after the first announcement of the bill in October. Some of these statements were extensive. But, as the press agency reports, the Ministry of Justice barely addresses the most frequently mentioned points of criticism.

Also, Die Tagespost writes that the government “has almost completely ignored the critical objections from experts, professional associations such as the Chamber of Pharmacists, Medical Associations, psychiatric associations, but also from churches and ethicists”.

The Catholic Press Agency’s report refers to lawyer Stephanie Merckens, a biopolitical expert at the Institute of Marriage and Family (IEF) of the Bishops’ Conference and member of the bioethics commission of the Federal Chancellery. Merckens asks in a statement: “What prevents politicians from listening to experts?”

Government has to work quickly

The Austrian government and parliament must work quickly since the bill has to become law in January 2022. The ban on assisted suicide will be stricken at that time because of a verdict of the Constitutional Court in 2020. According to Merckens, it is “more than questionable whether there will be any noteworthy changes”, she writes.

Stephanie Merckens 2.jpg
Dr. Stephanie Merckens, Photo IEF

Since the bill is about suicide, some of the statements refer to the fact that 90 per cent of suicidal people suffer from psychiatric illnesses. It is not always easy to recognise depressions, but they are still curable. The Society for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics (ÖGPP) has called for clarification about this.

The Catholic lay organisation has expressed sharp criticism of the forwarded government bill this week. The Austrian Bishops’ Council had expressed its resistance already some weeks ago.

Evangelicals are against too

The Protestant churches in Austria have the same doubts. According to Alfaomega.tv, the association of Free Churches of Austria, a movement of five evangelical federations in the country, called on its members to express their opposition to the law.

Austria’s main Protestant evangelical church has criticised the bill, saying it does not provide sufficient protection against an abusive approach, which could be fatal to vulnerable people.



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