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Germany debates assisted suicide

by | Aug 7, 2014

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Tourists at the entrance to Auschwitz

Tourists at the entrance to Auschwitz

NPR ran a story today that examines the German debate concerning euthanasia and assisted suicide. [A printed version of the radio broadcast appears here.]

Currently, euthanasia is illegal in Germany but there is no law concerning assisted suicide. The German Medical Association is urging the German government to prohibit euthanasia and assisted suicide and to forbid the commercialization of suicide.

As the  result of decisions by German courts

… assisted suicide is a murky legal question in Germany. Killing terminally ill patients directly, even if they request it, is illegal in the country. Prescribing certain barbiturates used for euthanasia in other countries is also illegal in Germany. But prescribing other drugs to terminally ill patients and then letting them ingest or inject those medications is permitted.

According to NPR

“Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new government says the current approach to assisted suicide in Germany won’t do. It is seeking a nationwide discussion this year to establish what euthanasia advocates fear will be a de facto ban on assisted suicide in Germany. … Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union political party has vowed to stop organizations and doctors it claims are profiting from vulnerable patients seeking to kill themselves.”

The Merkel government has assigned Michael Brand, a member of the Bundestag since 2005, to examine the issue. NPR quotes Brand as stating:

“… what the Belgians did amounts to ‘declaring their society bankrupt. We aren’t fundamentalists, but rather are looking for a modern and humane answer for … the most difficult question. 

“We live in a society where everyone today is productive, fit and healthy. We need to be careful not to put pressure on those who are nearing the end of their lives, who are sicker, who are disabled. Who has the right to decide what life is worth living or not?”

As Brand told NPR

“the question of assisted suicide is particularly sensitive in Germany because of his country’s Nazi history and the Holocaust.”

Germany needs to reject euthanasia and assisted suicide which are false acts of compassion that give the power to intentionally cause death to physicians.

It is a public safety issue. It is not safe to give anyone the right in law to intentionally cause the death of another person and you cannot protect people from those who will abuse the power over death.

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