German Parliament approves assisted suicide for ‘altruistic’ reasons
LifeSiteNews 6 November 2015
After Germany passed a law Friday which permits assisted suicide for “altruistic” motives but not for “business” ones, at least one German “assisted suicide association” has signaled it will challenge the legislation.
The law allows someone to assist a suicide on an “individual basis out of altruistic motives,” but “criminalizes commercial euthanasia,” with assisting a suicide for “business” reasons an offence punishable by up to three years in prison, according to Reuters and AP reports.
Legislators voted 360-233 for the bill – the first assisted suicide legislation the German Parliament has ever passed – after considering four options. Two of these would have legalized it completely, and one banned it entirely, Reuters reports.
Supported by Chancellor Angela Merkel, the bill has drawn criticism from both sides of the issue, and former Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries predicted it will be appealed at the Constitutional Court.
According to AP, Zypries said the distinction between “altruistic” and “business” motives “will open an era of great legal uncertainty.” She added, “When does a doctor behave in a business fashion? That is unclear.”
Alex Schadenberg, director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, says from what he’s seen of the legislation, it is almost identical to the Swiss law, which also allows assisted suicide for “basically altruistic reasons.”
But the law has led to the operation of Swiss “suicide clinics” run by organizations such as Dignitas, which attract an international clientele seeking to be euthanized.
Germany’s law may be an attempt to stop the operation of such clinics. “What they’re saying is if you break our rules, that’s a criminal act,” Schadenberg noted. “But they’ve in fact legalized assisted suicide per se.”