Court verdict: euthanasia: Bundestag must make a difficult decision

Active euthanasia has long been a criminal offence. After a judgment in Karlsruhe, the Bundestag must soon find a new regulation.

Can a doctor give a deadly drug to someone who wants to die? And if so, what are the requirements for such an active euthanasia? Does the patient have to seek advice? The Bundestag debates these questions. The background is the new regulation of euthanasia paragraph 217, which was declared null and void by the Federal Constitutional Court in 2020.

Until then, euthanasia officers who repeatedly and thus habitually made it possible to carry out a suicide were threatened with imprisonment for up to three years. It was therefore not possible with Paragraph 217 for organisations, associations or doctors to take a deadly drug for the patient with impunity willing to die to procure, because it was – even if no profit was made – so-called commercial euthanasia.

Constitutional Court: Everyone has the right to self-determined death

According to the judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court, however, everyone has the right to die independently – and they can also ask for help. Three draft laws are currently being discussed that aim to secure the right to self-determined dying in different ways. Presumably he will Bundestag in autumn decide on these initiatives.

In the first bill the so-called commercial promotion of euthanasia should remain punishable as a matter of principle, but be allowed under certain conditions and with mandatory counseling. In addition, suicide prevention is to be further expanded. In a second draft, consultation is also mandatory.

Active euthanasia: Three draft laws are up for debate in the Bundestag

A distinction is also made between medical emergencies and non-medical emergencies. Whether euthanasia is legal depends on the state of health of the person wishing to die. The third draft law is the most liberal: according to this, doctors are allowed to admit people who want to die with “autonomously formed, free will”. medicines prescribe for the purpose of suicide – if the person concerned has received open-ended advice.

Left-wing politician Petra Sitte supports this third draft. For the member of parliament self-determined dying is an expression of human dignity. Anyone who helps those who are willing to die – for example as a doctor – needs legal certainty and that can only be provided with a comprehensive range of advice.

However, this must absolutely be open-ended in order to guarantee this right of self-determination without restriction. Access conditions like Illness or even building up expert hurdles is wrong, she told our editorial team.

Patient advocates are calling for rules to prevent influencing the terminally ill

the German Foundation for Patient Protection avoids speaking out specifically in favor of one of the three drafts. But she calls on the legislature to make absolutely sure that an old or sick person’s will to die was not influenced or even pressured to die by relatives.

may only take place “if the self-determination of those willing to die is strengthened and protection against heteronomy is guaranteed,” said the foundation board member Eugen Brysch to our editorial team.

By the court verdict blurring the line between euthanasia and assisted suicide: even the active involvement of the euthanasia practitioner can now go unpunished. So far, the act of dominance had to lie with the suicidal person, but that is different now. Ignoring this blur is extremely dangerous. “The legislature is required to ensure clarity here,” said Brysch. (with ape)

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Editor’s note: Due to the high rate of copycats, we generally do not report on suicides or attempted suicides unless they receive special attention due to the circumstances. If you suffer from mood swings, depression or suicidal thoughts yourself or you know someone who suffers from them, you can get help from the telephone counseling service. You can reach them by telephone on 0800/111-0-111 and 0800/111-0-222 or on the Internet at The advice is anonymous and free of charge, calls are not noted on the telephone bill.

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