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Germany debates euthanasia and assisted suicide

by | Nov 13, 2014

 

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

German Health Minister Hermann Groehe (Getty images)

German Health Minister Hermann Groehe (Getty images)

The lower house of German parliament began debate today on euthanasia and/or assisted suicide.

EuropeOnline Magazine reported

No legislation is on the table yet, but five caucuses have developed on the issue, mostly crossing party lines. Some want to tighten rules against euthanasia, and others to legalize it as Belgium and the Netherlands have done.

Germany currently permits doctors to cease life-extending treatment or to administer powerful and dangerous sedatives at a dying person‘s request, but assisting a suicide is a crime. The debate in the Bundestag was a first airing of the issue before bills are moved for debate.

While there are differing opinions, the German Health Minister is opposed, according to EuropeOnline Magazine:

Health Minister Hermann Groehe said he opposed doctors assisting suicide. He said Germany should instead expand its network of hospices, so everyone has access to palliative care and the best painkillers while dying.

The history of euthanasia in Germany should be enough to caution German parliamentarians.

Once you give physicians the right, in law, to cause death, ethical boundaries prohibiting the intentional killing of human beings are forever changed. The result is what we have seen in the Netherlands and Belgium. Euthanasia began as a way of dealing with the “hard cases” and has now expanded to include euthanasia for children, people with dementia, people with psychiatric issues, loneliness, and for those who are “tired of living”

There is also significant number of unreported euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is the under-reported cases that are often related to abuses that include the intentional assisted deaths without explicit request.

Categories: Assisted Suicide