High­est court in Ger­many re­verses ban on as­sisted sui­cide

The Daily Telegraph - - World news - 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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