German lawmakers reject two proposals to legalize assisted suicide

German lawmakers rejected two proposals regarding assisted suicide on July 6. Both proposals would have provided a framework for providing lethal drugs to those who want them.

In 2020, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that a nationwide ban on assisted suicide “violated the rights of citizens to determine the circumstances of their own deaths by restricting their ability to seek assistance from a third party.” Though euthanasia, which involves a doctor actively killing a patient, remains illegal, prescribing drugs so that the patient can kill themselves has been considered a “gray area” following the 2020 ruling.

However, The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) notes that because there has been no formal legislation put in place to regulate assisted suicide, it remains relatively rare.

“Creating a legal framework will lead to more deaths by assisted suicide and the law will inevitably be challenged in the courts by groups wanting to expand it,” said Alex Schadenberg, EPC International Chair.

READ: Why do people request assisted suicide? A survey reveals disturbing reasons.

Cross-party lawmakers last week considered two competing proposals that would have established some sort of framework to make assisted suicide more accessible. One would have allowed adults seeking suicide to access lethal drugs three to 12 weeks after mandatory counseling, while the other would have required a psychiatrist or psychotherapist to establish over two appointments three months apart that the desire to die was of a “voluntary, serious and permanent nature.”

Euthanasia has long been a sensitive subject in Germany, as it brings to mind the time that the Nazi party killed at least 300,000 disabled people deemed “unworthy of life.” As CNE reports, German lawmakers now prefer the term “aid in dying” to distance themselves from that memory, though the reality is that legalizing assisted suicide devalues the sanctity of human life and it is state-sanctioned death.

Despite the lawmakers’ attempts, many people are opposed to allowing assisted suicide. Eugen Brysch, a board member of the Patient Protection Foundation, has previously decried the push for assisted suicide legislation, noting that there currently isn’t enough done to expand palliative care and ensure mental health wellness. He noted that psychotherapy and dignified care therapy are “still unattainable for many terminally ill, full of life, mentally ill or depressed people.”

“Suicide prevention is far too often neglected,” he said.

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