The complaints from euthanasia organizations, doctors and seriously ill people have been successful: the ban on business-like assistance with suicide that applies in Germany is unconstitutional. There is a right to self-determined death.
The ban on commercial euthanasia introduced in 2015 violates the Basic Law. There is a right to self-determined death, said the President of the Federal Constitutional Court, Andreas Vosskuhle, when the judgment was announced in Karlsruhe. This includes the freedom to take your own life and take advantage of offers from third parties. The new criminal law paragraph 217 makes this largely impossible.
The judges declared the ban null and void after complaints from the sick, euthanasia and doctors. Section 217 criminalizes "promoting suicide as a business activity". Violations can result in up to three years imprisonment or a fine. Only relatives and "loved ones" who assist in suicide are exempt from punishment. The legislator wanted to prevent suicide aid associations from expanding their offers for paying members and becoming socially acceptable. Nobody should feel pressured to end their life.
Professional euthanasia had largely ceased their activities in Germany since then, but sued the ban in Karlsruhe – as did several seriously ill people who would like to use their services.
Palliative care professionals wanted legal certainty
Behind other constitutional complaints are doctors who fear that they will be liable to prosecution in the palliative care treatment of terminally ill people. Some of them also want the freedom to provide a lethal drug to patients in certain cases.
Active euthanasia – killing on demand, for example with an injection – is and will remain prohibited in Germany. With assisted euthanasia, the deadly drug is only made available, but the patient takes it himself.
SPD: Spahn must act now
The SPD in the Bundestag is now calling for Health Minister Jens Spahn to move. The minister must now give up his resistance to the distribution of the drugs necessary for euthanasia, said parliamentary group vice-president Barbel Bas of the dpa news agency. The judgment gives the mandate to ensure legal certainty. "Seriously ill patients who want to end their lives independently must not be left alone," said Bas.
Diakonie warns of the consequences
After the judgment, the diakonia fears "consequences, the consequences of which cannot be estimated". In view of their suffering, old and sick people should "in no way be labeled as a burden for society and urged to forego medical measures because they think that their treatment will be too expensive for their relatives or that they themselves no longer know a way out in extreme need" said Diakonie President Ulrich Lilie.
It must now be ensured "with all efforts" that euthanasia does not become "a terrible instrument of market society".