February 27, 2020

GERMANY: Germany's Highest Court Has Just Made Suicide Legal By Any Means And Legal To Enlist Organized Suicide Services Provided By Third Parties.

(DW), Germany
written by Wolfgang Dick
Wednesday February 26, 2020

Germany's highest court has overturned a section of the criminal code forbidding all forms of assisted suicide. Many terminally ill patients and medical professionals had fought to see the law scrapped.

"I want to end it if the pain gets unbearable," 63-year-old Melanie S. tells Lukas Radbruch, a doctor at University Hospital Bonn, who has also been serving as the president of the German Association for Palliative Medicine since 2014. She has end-stage lung cancer, and fears she could suddenly lose the ability to swallow and suffocate while fully conscious. This possibility has led Melanie S. to consider assisted suicide.

Paragraph 217 of Germany's criminal code had prohibited assisted suicide. The law was adopted in 2015 by Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, to prevent associations or individuals from turning suicide into a kind of business. Specifically, the law states that "anyone who, with the intention of assisting another person to commit suicide, provides, procures or arranges the opportunity for that person to do so and whose actions are intended as a recurring pursuit incurs a penalty of imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or a fine."

Legal experts have since hotly debated whether the law also criminalizes consultations — or merely mentioning, for example, that one may end one's life by foregoing food.

Seeking assisted suicide abroad

As a result, individuals who until 2015 had facilitated assisted suicides ceased doing so. And doctors and staff working in hospices became too scared to even consult patients on this possibility. Consequently, many terminally ill individuals traveled to Switzerland or the Netherlands instead, where even active assisted suicide through a third party is legal.

Anyone too weak or without the financial means to embark on such a journey, however, found themselves forced to ask family members to help them end their suffering. Family members who did meet this final wish were not prosecuted. But who would want to burden a close relative or loved one to assist in their suicide?

Many terminally ill individuals were deeply dissatisfied with this legal situation. Along with a number of medical professionals, they then took to Germany's highest court to challenge paragraph 217. Wolfgang Putz, an expert in medical ethics, told DW he believes the current legal situation regarding assisted suicides is untenable and must be reformed: "Germany's [Protestant and Catholic] church still exert significant influence on political decision-makers, even though we live in a secular state."

The Protestant and Catholic churches in Germany reject all forms of assisted suicide. Putz, therefore, welcomed the possibility that Germany's highest court, the country's supreme legal institution, could strengthen the constitutionally guaranteed right to self-determination with regard to suicide.

The potential of palliative care

The president of the German Association for Palliative Medicine, Lukas Radbruch, knows that it is essential to empathize with and carefully listen to patients who are considering assisted suicide. In his experience, whenever someone enquires about this possibility, it is often a cry for help to end one's suffering. Whenever he then suggests pain-relieving sedative drugs, terminally ill patients gladly opt for this possibility.

Ahead of the verdict, he warned that "if the constitutional court rules to scrap paragraph 217, it could embolden individuals who assist with suicides and that could be a dangerous development for society." He fears that many terminally ill individuals could choose assisted suicide so as not to burden anyone. And he stresses that nobody must ever feel pressured into taking such a step. In his opinion, assisted suicide should always be an absolute last resort.

What did Germany's top court decide?

The country‘s top court on February 26 ruled that paragraph 217 is incompatible with the constitution, making assisted suicide once more possible in Germany, as it previously was. The verdict opens the door to legislation that would allow doctors to counsel patients about this option and provide them with lethal drugs, yet not administer them.

The court found that individuals have a right to "self-determined" suicide, including the freedom to take one's own life and to enlist organized services provided by third parties.

Leading advocate dies before historic ruling

Uwe-Christian Arnold was one of Germany's leading assisted suicide advocates. The Berlin urologist, who died in April 2019, once accused German lawmakers and healthcare decision-makers of a pre-Enlightenment mindset when he asked: "How can people, who have never been afflicted by a serious illness themselves, be so brazen as to judge whether a person's life is still worth living?"

He was convinced that terminally ill individuals, who are mentally healthy and have an autonomous mind, should be permitted to choose whether or not they want to end their lives in dignity. Arnold's role in helping others commit suicide, meanwhile, meant he constantly violated the Hippocratic Oath and thus risked losing his German medical license.

Arnold was repeatedly taken to court for his role in facilitating assisted suicides — and acquitted each time. He said that he assisted more than 100 individuals across Germany in ending their own lives — after first thoroughly vetting their mental ability to make the choice.

Arnold was one of the plaintiffs who called on Germany's top court to review the legality of paragraph 217. He had been scheduled to give a five-minute statement before the court in April 2019 regarding his role in facilitating assisted suicides. The president of Germany's constitutional court, Andreas Vosskuhle, had specifically asked Arnold to speak before the court to learn in which life situations patients express the desire to die by assisted suicide and how physicians deal with such wishes. But Arnold, who suffered from bone marrow cancer, passed away before he could address the court.
National Review
written by Wesley J. Smith
Wednesday February 26, 2020

The logic of euthanasia/assisted suicide has always pointed towards a right to death-on-demand. Assisted-suicide activists deny it for reasons of expediency. But the logic is irrefutable. If there is a “right to die,” how can it be limited to restricting categories?

Well, the Federal Constitutional Court, Germany’s highest judicial body, has gone there and without equivocation. In overturning a legal ban on “professional assisted suicide,” i.e., by doctors, the court ruled that there is virtually an unlimited right “to a self-determined death” — and to also receive help from others in achieving that end. From the AFP story (my emphasis):
Judge Andreas Vosskuhle at the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe said the right to a self-determined death included “the freedom to take one’s life and seek help doing so”.

The court also surprised observers by explicitly stating that the right to assisted suicide services should not be limited to the seriously or incurably ill.

The freedom to choose one’s death “is guaranteed in all stages of a person’s existence”, the verdict read.
This right to receive help dying wouldn’t be limited do doctor-assisted suicide, by the way. An earlier ruling legalized assisted suicide for reasons that did not include a financial consideration.

In what seems more of an afterthought than a principled concern, the court said brakes could be tapped to delay a planned suicide, such as waiting periods. But ultimately, if somebody wants to commit suicide, the right to do so is apparently absolute based on the German constitution’s guarantee of the right to personal freedom and dignity:
Judge Vosskuhle acknowledged that the ruling would not please everyone but said the decision of those wishing to end their lives had to be respected. “We may regret their decision and try everything we can do change their minds but ultimately we must accept their freedom to choose,” he said.
It cannot be denied any longer. The long-predicted (here’s a 2007 warning from me) lethal logical end of accepting the values that underlie the assisted suicide/euthanasia movement — death for virtually anyone who wants to die for any reason — has officially been reached. This would seem to include at least mature children, since childhood is a stage of a person’s existence. Right?

So no more telling us that assisted suicide is only for the terminally ill! No more telling us that rigid guidelines will protect against abuse! Basta! Germany is now officially a suicide culture. If we keep hearkening to the siren song of death emanating from assisted/suicide euthanasia advocates here, sooner or later, we will be too.
Meanwhile, the majority of humanity is trying to help people avoid suicide. Germany just made it legal to kill yourself. It makes sense that a Socialist nation that has most of their population dependent on Universal healthcare wanting to eliminate care for the neediest most vulnerable patients. (emphasis mine)

The Guardian, UK
written by Reuters staff
Wednesday February 26, 2020

Law that prohibited third parties helping people end their life ‘unconstitutional’

A German law that bans assisted suicide services breaches the constitution, the country’s highest court has ruled in a landmark decision favouring groups that help people die when they choose.

The plaintiffs sought to overturn a law that has since 2015 outlawed assisted suicide undertaken by organisations or doctors who accepted a fee for their help.

“The prohibition of assisted suicide services … violates the basic law and is void,” the constitutional court in Karlsruhe said in its ruling.

Lawmakers must now draw up new rules to reflect the decision.

Euthanasia is particularly sensitive in Germany due to the legacy of the Holocaust, when Nazis killed and carried out inhumane experiments on Jews.

Because of the existing law, some people in Germany seek euthanasia via relatives or go abroad.

In its ruling, the court said Germany’s constitution includes a right to a self-determined death which encompasses the freedom to take one’s own life and use assistance provided voluntarily by third parties.

This decision by an individual must be respected, the court said.

Some palliative medics had argued against any change in the law, fearing it could risk premature action in cases not properly based on a wish to die.

Only a few countries in the world have legalised euthanasia whereby a doctor administers lethal doses of drugs to patients willing to die, or people perform the action themselves.
The US map above has the most updated data on this subject.

Now, Germany can be added to the Permits active euthanasia list. Notice how the states that approved legal suicide in the United States are governed by Marxist Democrats who are pushing for Universal healthcare as well. Also, take note that the other legal suicide nations are Socialist nations that have government-run Universal healthcare system in place. Whereby, people who require costly medical care are expendable. They will gladly help you end your life as opposed to destabilizing their Universal healthcare system with "unnecessary" medical costs that can easily be prevented. (emphasis mine)

UPDATE 2/27/20 at 5:55am: Added tweet below.

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