Germany’s highest court hears challenge to assisted suicide law

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The assisted suicide issue has been debated in Germany for many years. In recent years Swiss assisted suicide groups have been campaigning for assisted suicide not only in Germany but worldwide.

Yesterday, Germany’s Constitutional Court, the nation’s highest court, heard a challenge to the 2015 law that punishes organizations that assist patients in ending their own lives for profit— “commercial assisted suicide.”

Reuters News reported:

The Karlsruhe-based tribunal is expected to rule on the case in the next few months. “We hope that with a decision from the Constitutional Court, we will return to (a situation where) we can help members in the way they want,” plaintiff Roger Kusch, of lobby group Assisted Dying Germany, told Reuters.

Arguing against a repeal of the law are palliative medics, who fear a change would risk premature action in cases not properly based on a wish to die. Only a few countries in the world have legalized euthanasia whereby a doctor administers lethal doses of drugs to patients willing to die, or people take the final action themselves.

In March 2017, Germany’s federal Court decided that doctors could prescribe lethal drugs to their patients in “extreme” circumstances. The decision created a dilemma because article 217 of Germany’s Criminal Code prohibits the promotion of suicide.

In July 2018, Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) requested that the Bonn Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) “refuse applications” for euthanasia drugs.”

Last year Deutche Welle News reported that deputy Health Minister, Lutz Stroppe wrote in a letter that:

In view of “fundamental and far-reaching questions, particularly constitutional questions … It cannot be the task of the state to actively support suicidal acts through the official, administrative approval of the acquisition of the specific suicide agent,” deputy health minister Lutz Stroppe wrote.

“This is not compatible with the purpose of the Narcotics Act to ensure the necessary medical care of the population. A suicide cannot be considered therapy,” the letter continued.

According to Deutche Welle News, 108 applications for lethal drugs have been submitted since the March 2017 court decision and at least 20 of those people died from lethal drugs.

Germany has been debating the issue of assisted suicide for many years. The German court should not permit assisted suicide. Legalizing assisted suicide gives physicians the right in law to be involved with causing the death of their patients. The possible abuse of euthanasia and assisted suicide should be self-evident considering Germany’s past.

Germany’s Jewish community opposes the legalization of assisted suicide.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.