German bill on assisted suicide meant to discourage taking steps


Central Europe


New German bill tries to discourage assisted suicide. Photo ANP, Roos Koole

German MPs from almost all parties together have tabled a draft law on assisted suicide. They want to limit assisted suicide to adults and capable people. It is the most restrictive of several proposals in the present Bundestag.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide have always been very sensitive in Germany. This has to do with the history of the Holocaust. The program to get rid of people with a handicap was called “Euthanasia”, too. Since 1945, Germans don’t like making laws in connection with life and death. When the Dutch legalised euthanasia in 2000, the German Justice minister Däubler-Gmelin spoke about a “serious breach of taboo”.

Two years ago, in February 2020, the Constitutional Court in Germany decided to scrap the 2015 ban on commercial assisted suicide since everybody is autonomous in end-of-life issues. According to the judges, that implies the freedom to take somebody else in the arm to help. Because of that, lawmakers are obliged to do something. This situation is quite comparable with the one in Austria. Because of a verdict by the court, the government had to rush with a bill on assisted suicide that became law this January.

At this moment, several bills have been tabled in the German Parliament. Most of them facilitate doctors to give a particular poison that will lead to death.

Minors are excluded

The new proposal by five members from different parties is stricter than all others. According to the Christian press agency Idea, assistance is only allowed if the patient has been consulted twice by an independent psychiatrist. He has to convince himself that the wish to die is voluntary, serious and lasting. There must be at least three months between the two consults. According to the MPs, assisted suicide for minors is excluded and must be forbidden.

The idea behind this proposal is “to enable but not to encourage”, according to MP Lars Castellucci from the Social Democratic SPD party. For that reason, part of the bill is a proposal to make suicide prevention stronger.

The other MPs that support this bill are Ansgar Heveling (Christian Democratic CDU), Kirsten Kappert-Gonther (Greens), Benjamin Strasser (Liberal FDP) and Kathrin Vogler (Radical Left).

“Thoughts of suicide are usually volatile”, said Kappert-Gonther at the presentation, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The bill is there to prevent that a temporary condition leads to an irreversible decision.



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