Euthanasia: the controversy over the right to death


Palliative care physicians and private euthanasia-find clubs and associations: The death with dignity act of 2015 is too strict. That’s why they complained before the Federal constitutional court. But there is also a different point of view.

One of the President of the Federal constitutional court Andreas vosskuhle made it clear right from the beginning of the two-day hearing: ‘It’s not in the procedure “to the moral or political assessment of self-killing”, but “exclusively with the constitutionality of a specific criminal norm, with a limited field of application”. That Voßkuhle wanted to stick with a sober arrangement of the objective, and thus the expectations of vapour, makes sense. The topic of euthanasia is charged for years in an emotional way.

The negotiation is the beginning of a several weeks-scale examination of the German Supreme court on the constitutionality of the “law on the criminal liability of the business-like promotion of suicide”. This was adopted after long and controversial debates the end of 2015 in the Bundestag. The deputies were at the time of your Group exempt status. The goal of the law: The Bundestag wanted to take action against private euthanasia associations, such as the Association of euthanasia in Germany. This was offered assisted Suicide and arranges contacts Doctors. Also, the assisted suicide, such as the provision of a lethal medication has been made with the act of 2015 is punishable. In Switzerland, for example, this is possible.

Who has complained and why?

In a total of six cases of euthanasia associations, palliative care physicians and seriously ill people to end their life using euthanasia, had appealed against the law complaint. In particular, they interfere at paragraph 217. It says literally: “he Who gives with the intention of promoting self-killing of another, for that purpose, the business granted the opportunity, or conveyed, shall be punished with imprisonment up to three years or with a monetary penalty.”

November 2015: The members of the Bundestag voted on the rules for euthanasia

While all of the plaintiffs feel that the rules as too strict, are the individual motivations for the actions are different. The Doctors disturb on the word “business”, the legal point of view, not only commercial offers, but all offers my that happen repeatedly – including conversations with patients in which they Express their desire to Die. You are afraid of making in the treatment of terminally ill people is a punishable offence, or hold the offered euthanasia at ausweglosem Suffer morally. The seriously ill people, the actions in Karlsruhe, rely mainly on the General right of personality, and from this derive a right to self-determination in Dying. The euthanasia associations against it, you can’t be for its members by the new rules.

Who is against euthanasia?

Above all, the Church wants to adhere to the existing law. The President of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), Thomas Sternberg, summarizes the concerns of the Church representatives. “Respect for the self-determination of every human being and his inviolable Dignity in the extreme situation of the death of life requires, in addition to the provision of a comprehensive palliative care, this statutory prohibition”.

Thomas Sternberg is the President of the Central Committee of German Catholics.

The Federal constitutional court would agree with the plaintiffs, the view, star hill, the consequences will be, incalculable. With the approval of organised assisted Suicide by euthanasia associations “, it could be a social normality, to take you in.” Especially the weak and the sick people would have to stay in front of the outer and inner pressure-protected: “By offering assisted suicide is strengthened, the feeling to be able to anybody to be a burden, especially if the aid is a legally and socially acceptable Option.” Such a development is the flip side of a common understanding of self-determination.

Support the Church receives, among other things, from conservative politicians such as the former health Minister Hermann Gröhe (CDU). But also Frank Ulrich Montgomery, the President of the Federal chamber of physicians, finds that euthanasia in Germany should remain as a service is forbidden. “We need to be as the Doctors clear that we come as a Helping, Healing to the bed and not as a Killing,” said Montgomery. “People with existential Suffering in need of medical help and human attention. Palliative medicine is able to” achieve this, business-like euthanasia supplemented by contrast, Montgomery.

Also, lawyers at odds

How different the legal opinion of the law is, among other things, a judgment of the Federal administrative court. In 2017, the court had ruled that the Federal Institute for drugs and medical products could be required in “extreme emergencies” incurable and suffering of the applicant to lethal means. Following this judgment, the state may be required in extreme situations, terminally ill and suffering to allow patients the purchase of deadly drugs. In the truest sense of the word, the decision in Karlsruhe, so a life-and-death – in all sobriety of Andreas Voßkuhle.