Should assisted suicide be allowed?

The Austrian Constitutional Court has overturned the country's ban on assisted suicide on the grounds that it violates the right to free self-determination. Active euthanasia - killing someone at his or her express request - remains a criminal offence. Austria's commentators voice pensive approval.

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Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

This ruling places an obligation on us all

The Wiener Zeitung considers the factors that may have prompted the judges to reach this decision:

“The reasons for lifting the ban on assisted suicide are not so much fundamental as practical in nature. The boundaries when it comes to dying are fluid, which leaves the physicians in charge of the patient legally vulnerable. Death does not adhere to the ostensible clarity of legal categories. ... The decision to retain the ban on active euthanasia entails an obligation. Those who advocate this as a society must also do so for hospice and palliative care. Only if we as a community succeed in accompanying the dying on their path in a humane and dignified manner will the renunciation of active euthanasia be endowed with the necessary moral basis.”

Der Standard (AT) /

It would have been a more beautiful death

Journalist Saskia Jungnikl, who published a book about her father's suicide which attracted a lot of attention in 2014, welcomes the verdict and explains in Der Standard that most people who kill themselves don't want to die:

“Most of them see no more meaning in life, no way out, no future. Very often they are lonely and feel they can't ask for help. A step that the judgment may make easier. ... If my father had been able to talk to me about his wish to die, I would have gone with him to a therapist. To a doctor. If his wish to die had persisted, I could have accompanied him in his last minutes if euthanasia had been permitted. I would have said goodbye, held his hand, and we would have surrounded him with all our love and made possible a farewell that was not lonely and full of fear. It would have been a more beautiful death.”