Germany: Euthanasia bills rejected

Assisted suicide is still not regulated by law in Germany. Both bills for the new regulation of euthanasia failed in the Bundestag.

The struggle for legal regulations on euthanasia continues. In the Bundestag, neither of the two bills presented on the subject was able to achieve the required majority among the members of parliament.

The two draft bills presented in the Bundestag wanted the Narcotics Act to state that it is legal to prescribe lethal drugs for assisted suicide. However, the proposals provided different levels of hurdles for this step.

First draft law with strict hurdles for euthanasia

The first draft came from the SPD politician Lars Castellucci and the CDU MP Ansgar Heveling and was supported by other MPs from the Greens, FDP and Left Party. In principle, according to this proposal, so-called commercial euthanasia should again be criminalized and only allowed under strict conditions. Violations should continue to be punishable with a prison sentence of up to three years.

Those affected should, among other things, undergo multiple psychiatric or psychotherapeutic assessments, seek additional medical advice and only be able to take advantage of assisted suicide a certain time after these steps. It should be ruled out that the decision of those affected is influenced, for example, by a mental illness.

In the vote on this draft, 304 parliamentarians voted in favor of this draft, 363 voted against.

The second proposal relies on a comprehensive advisory network

The second draft law was presented by a group led by Katrin Helling-Plahr from the FDP, Green Party politician Renate Künast and other parliamentarians from the SPD and Left Party. They strived to remove the right to euthanasia from criminal law as a matter of principle and relied on a wide-ranging counseling network.

But this proposal also failed in the vote with 287 votes in favor to 375 against.

Large majority for suicide prevention law

After the two votes, the Bundestag voted in favor of a law on suicide prevention with a large majority. 688 MEPs voted in favor of a corresponding request from two groups of MEPs from different parliamentary groups.

The application calls on the federal government to present a corresponding draft regulation and a strategy for suicide prevention in the coming year. The regulation should establish a nationwide suicide prevention service with the involvement of telephone counseling or social psychiatric services. People with suicidal thoughts and their relatives should be able to contact them immediately online and via a nationwide telephone number. Research should also be expanded.

The application indicates that a total of 9,215 people took their own lives in 2021.

The Federal Constitutional Court overturned the 2020 ban

Legal regulation of euthanasia is necessary after the Federal Constitutional Court overturned the criminal code’s ban on so-called commercial euthanasia in 2020. From the point of view of the judges, the right to self-determined dying also includes the possibility of obtaining assistance with suicide. This means that suicide in Germany, like assistance, is fundamentally legal. However, the court recommended regulating the requirements for euthanasia using a protection concept.


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