Start News German – Supreme Court lifts ban on euthanasia

German – Supreme Court lifts ban on euthanasia

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The German Federal Constitutional Court has declared the ban on allowing those who wish to die to commit suicide to be unconstitutional. The law of December 2015 against the commercial promotion of suicide is therefore null and void and can no longer be applied. Harsh criticism came from the churches.

Reference to „self-determined life“

„The decision in the present proceedings was not an easy one for us,“ said Court President Andreas Voßkuhle today before the verdict. The right to free development of one’s personality includes the freedom to commit suicide and seek help from third parties.

The right to self-determined death is also not “limited to serious and incurable illnesses or certain phases of life and illness. There is every phase of human life, ”said Voßkuhle in Karlsruhe. However, the criminal law empties this right. In fact, it makes it virtually impossible for individuals to receive suicide help. That was not appropriate.

Application also to the VfGH

In Austria, too, the Constitutional Court (VfGH) has had an application since May 2019 with which the Austrian Society for the End of Life (ÖGHL) is trying to overturn the strict ban on euthanasia. The constitutional judges just meeting in the spring session will not deal with them until their next session in June at the earliest, it was said today.

Legislators can restrict law

On the other hand, the eight constitutional judges give the legislature scope. This is not prohibited to regulate suicide aid. The state must also ensure that the autonomy of the individual is protected and not endangered by third parties. Legislators should therefore counteract developments that promote social pressure to commit suicide, for example when considering usefulness.

The legislator’s assessment that assisted suicide can establish itself as a normal form of ending life, especially for old and sick people, is also understandable. To this end, the legislature may lay down information and waiting obligations. He could also make suicide assistance subject to permission to ensure the reliability of suicide assistance offers. This could go as far as „prohibiting particularly dangerous forms of suicide aid“.

But there had to be enough space for the individual to end his life independently. „We may regret his decision, we may try everything to change his mind, but we must ultimately accept his free decision,“ said Vosskuhle. The verdict is 151 pages long.

Sharp criticism from churches

The two large churches in Germany sharply criticized the judgment. It represents „a cut in our culture, which is geared towards affirmation and promotion of life“, declared the Catholic German Bishops‘ Conference and the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).