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Assisted suicide: Draft laws fail to pass in Bundestag

July 6, 2023

The German lower house of parliament has been voting on two pieces of draft legislation regarding the practice.

A young hand holding an old one
The topic of assisted suicide is one that causes emotions to run highImage: Oliver Berg/dpa/picture alliance

Germany's Bundestag on Thursday voted down two proposals related to assisted suicide.

The first draft proposing that assisted suicide be fundamentally punishable by law (with exceptions) failed to pass. A total of 304 lawmakers voted in favor, with 363 against.

The other draft sought to enshrine the right to self-determined death in law.

What were the proposals on assisted suicide in Germany?

Two groups of parliamentarians put forward proposals on the issue, which were subject to a free vote.

For one group, Katrin Helling-Plahr of the business-focused Free Democratic Party (FDP) said there were many people who wanted to decide to die when the right time for them had come, and that they should be able to do so without fear of legal repercussions.

Center-left Social Democrat (SPD) politician Lars Castellucci, speaking for the other group, said it was important to make assisted suicide possible without encouraging it.

He said anyone providing organized possibilities for suicide without adhering to a fixed concept of protecting the vulnerable should be liable for penalties.

Both proposals shared the aim of creating a legal framework for giving those wanting to commit suicide access to the lethal drugs they need. They would also allow assisted suicide only in the case of those who have reached legal maturity.

In addition, the two groups proposed increasing suicide prevention aid services, including with a nationwide hotline for those having suicidal thoughts and their relatives.

Assisted suicide debate in Germany

The two initiatives arose from a landmark ruling of Germany's Consitutional Court in 2020 that overturned a ban on organized assisted suicide as being a violation of the right of any individual to die on her or his own terms.

That ruling means that assisting someone to die at their own wish is legal in Germany, but that there are currently no laws regulating how this can be done.

Editor's note: If you are suffering from serious emotional strain or suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to seek professional help. You can find information on where to find such help, no matter where you live in the world, at this website: https://www.befrienders.org/

tj/wd (dpa, AFP)

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