German Bundestag Debates Measures to Legalize Assisted Suicide

International   |   Alex Schadenberg   |   Jul 6, 2015   |   4:03PM   |   Berlin, Germany

Assisted suicide was debated last week in the German Bundestag. There have been several high profile cases of German people who have died by assisted suicide at a clinic in Switzerland.

According to Deutsche Welle media, the German Bundestag (the lower house of Parliament) was presented with four competing draft bills.

One lawmaker, Ulla Schmidt of the Social Democrats (SPD), voiced a concern that assisted suicide harkens back to the euthanasia program employed during the Nazi era, and called on her colleagues to proceed with caution.

Katrin Göring-Eckhardt of the Green party said she was a worried about becoming the type of society that expects “the suffering elderly and those in need to bring an end to their own lives.”

Renate Künast of the Greens and Petra Sitte of the Left party, would completely remove legal hurdles to assisted suicide.

Michael Brand of the Christian Democrats (CDU) and Kerstin Griese of the SPD have prepared what they call a “middle way” between punishing those who provide euthanasia assistance and a complete deregulation of the process.

Another CDU member, Patrick Sensberg, presented a draft that sought to criminalize any sort of assisted suicide. … He spoke of the personal burdens some doctors would have to bear if they were required to help any terminally ill patient who wanted their assistance committing suicide.

The article also noted

Opponents of Brand and Greise’s draft said it would dissuade doctors from helping terminally ill patients seeking the right to die, in case angry relatives argue that doctors are making money from practicing.

The article–“German parliament opens debate on assisted suicide”– concluded that

The only thing that all parties were able to agree on was the need to strengthen and spread the availability and services provided by hospices and palliative care wards.

In June 2012, the German Medical Association voted against euthanasia, to forbid euthanasia organizations and to urge the government to make the commercialization of suicide a crime.

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Last December, the German Ethics Council rejected a change in the assisted suicide law while supporting confidentiality between patients and physicians. Last November, the majority of the German Bundestag opposed assisted suicide groups such as those in Switzerland.

The Bundestag is aiming to pass legislation by November 2015. Last September, the memorial to the T-4 euthanasia program victims opened in Berlin. Note: Alex Schadenberg is the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and you can read his blog here.