After the ruling from Karlsruhe: the Bundestag argues about euthanasia

According to a ruling from Karlsruhe
The Bundestag argues about euthanasia

Should euthanasia be possible in Germany to some extent in the future or should it remain strictly prohibited? The debate revolves around conservative and liberal approaches across the parties in the Bundestag. The Federal Constitutional Court calls for a new regulation.

In a seminal discussion, the Bundestag discussed a possible new regulation of euthanasia. Representatives campaigned across parliamentary groups for competing bills that provided stricter or liberal regulations. Parliamentary blocs are scrambling for new regulation because the Federal Constitutional Court has struck down a ban on euthanasia that had been in effect until then in 2020.

SPD deputy Kristen Grace called for the stricter regulation, which would make assisting commercial suicides punishable. “It is about the concept of protection that guarantees self-determination.” Suicide should not be encouraged, people should be supported if they want to live. Green Party MP Kirsten Kapert-Gunther has also spoken out in favor of the Criminal Responsibility Project. Prevention should be the first priority before suicide. The will to die is often just a desire to take a breather in a situation that is perceived as intolerable. Ansgar Hefling, MP for the CDU party, which also supports the bill, noted that the suicide rate is higher in countries where commercial euthanasia is legal. CDU MP Hubert Hope added that he did not want a regulation that “views medically assisted suicide as a therapeutic alternative, so to speak”.

FDP Representative Catherine Helling-Blaar campaigned for the draft assisted suicide law she helped introduce. The FDP politician said criminal regulation was “out of the question.” People wanted to make sure that he would “let them die when the time came.” These people should be treated with respect rather than the threat of punishment. Helge Lind, Member of Parliament for the Social Democrats, has also spoken out in favor of the proposal for assisted suicide. He referred to the Federal Constitutional Court, which explicitly authorized such support. And although the judgment was rude, it “must not become rudeness to those affected and potential helpers.” Green Party MP Rinat Konst has campaigned for her proposal for a law to protect the right to die alone. “At its core, it is about self-determination,” she said in the discussion. The ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court, by which the ban on commercial euthanasia was repealed in 2020, must be respected.

A network of counseling centers will be established

The bill, backed by more than 80 lawmakers, on criminal liability for commercial assisted suicide states that this should not be illegal if the person willing to commit suicide is “of legal age and able to understand” and seek medical advice. The Assisted Suicide Act proposal envisages the creation of a network of state-approved counseling centers that provide open information to those who want to die. According to Konast’s draft, clinicians should be able to prescribe medication for suicide if those who are willing to die are in a medical emergency.

The Bundestag already discussed euthanasia in a directive debate over a year ago, but has yet to make a decision due to the federal election. Now MPs want to discuss the three bills in first reading before the summer recess. After the parliamentary recess, there must be a hearing first, and the Bundestag can then make a decision in October.

The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) is convinced that a suicide prevention law should be introduced as part of a new regulation for euthanasia. “People who do not see another way out should not be left to themselves, their relatives and loved ones,” explained Annette Corchos, chair of the EKD Board. Caritas also called for more prevention. The organization’s president, Eva-Maria Welskobe-Deva, noted the high number of suicides among people over the age of 65. “This fact should not be underestimated and exacerbated by facilitating access to assisted suicide.”

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