The Daily Telegraph

Highest court in Germany reverses ban on assisted suicide

- By Justin Huggler in Berlin

ASSISTED suicide was fully legalised in Germany yesterday after its highest court overturned a previous ban.

Doctors and organisati­ons offering assisted suicide to patients previously faced up to three years in prison.

But the German constituti­onal court ruled that infringed the right of an individual to choose to die.

“We may regret his decision, but we must ultimately accept his free decision,” said Andreas Vosskuhle, the president of the court.

The decision only allows doctors to prescribe patients drugs to help them die, but the patients must take the drugs themselves.

The previous legal situation was complicate­d. While anyone deemed to offer assisted suicide on a regular basis faced prosecutio­n, relatives or doctors who helped a single patient to die on a one-off basis were exempt from criminal charges. The law, passed in 2015, was supposed to prevent anyone offering assisted suicide as a commercial venture, but also affected doctors and non-profit organisati­ons.

“This is a good judgment for people in desperate situations, who we can now treat according to our conscience,” Matthias Thöns, a palliative care doctor, told Spiegel magazine.

But the decision came under fire from critics. “I believe this is likely to pave the way towards normalisin­g suicide as a treatment option,” Hermann Gröhe, a former health minister said.

A spokesman for Angela Merkel said the government wanted to study the ruling carefully before any comment.

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