Germany: ban on assisted suicide repealed

Germany's Constitutional Court on Wednesday repealed a law that bans assisted suicide services on the grounds that it is unconstitutional as it violates the right to self-determined death. Introduced in 2015, the law stipulated that only relatives would be exempt of punishment in cases of assisted suicide; members of assisted suicide organisations and doctors could be sent to prison. Commentators welcome the ruling.

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Zeit Online (DE) /

Taboo has finally been broken

The ruling comes as a big relief especially for the relatives, Zeit Online notes:

“The whole weight of responsibility was on their shoulders. ... They were the only ones allowed to assist suicide with impunity. They were the ones who mixed the drug cocktail of their seriously ill spouse or mother, who, in view of their hopeless medical situation, no longer saw any point in living and wanted to put an end to their suffering. They were the ones who gave the syringe to their brother or gave their daughter the lethal pill - or not. ... Now palliative care physicians and patients can speak out openly, the taboo has been broken. But an open discussion also means that doctors can point out alternatives as long as there are any. Euthanasia can only ever be the last resort.”

Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

Freedom is good, but scepticism is also warranted

For the Wiener Zeitung the ruling represents a victory for liberal individualism:

“The conviction that a self-determined life also includes a self-determined death is key. It fits in with present times. The idea that life is a gift that you don't give away on principle dates back to different times. Whether it was bad then and better today is something everyone must decide for themselves. For this reason, too, this verdict is another victory for liberal individualism, which sees the individual's will as the benchmark. It is this mentality that we have to thank for the extent of our freedom as individual and collective subjects. Conversely, there is no rule stipulating that every victory must be loudly applauded. We have yet to discover where this new freedom will lead us. Scepticism is entirely warranted in view of how humans have dealt with life in the past.”