German court overturns ban on assisted suicide

WION Web Team
GermanyUpdated: Feb 27, 2020, 11:37 PM IST

In 2019, the court partially decriminalised assisted suicide under certain conditions with the approval of local health authorities and an ethics committee. Nonetheless, it recommended that parliament should pass a law regulating the practice. Photograph:(Reuters)

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The German court rejected the five-year-old law which banned professionally assisted suicide

A court in Germany has said that a 2015 law banning professional assisted suicide was "unconstitutional".

Assisted suicide services are no longer banned in the country. The German court rejected the five-year-old law which banned professionally assisted suicide.

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The landmark decision came after a group of terminally ill patients along with doctors challenged the law.

In Germany, the subject is all the more contentious because of the Nazi policy of killing hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people during the 1930s and 40s.

The paragraph 217 was passed in November 2015 which penalized anyone who turned assisted suicide into a professional service. It required German patients to go abroad to end their lives. Under Paragraph 217, professionals falling foul of the law risked a fine or up to three years in prison.

Earlier, they would travel to Switzerland or the Netherlands or seek euthanasia via relatives. The law now stands repealed.

The court ruled the prohibition of assisted suicide services violates the basic law and is void and that the country's constitution gives individuals the right to a self-determined death which includes the freedom to take one's own life and use assistance provided voluntarily by third parties.

The judge said those who wanted to offer suicide assistance must be legally allowed to without being forced. However, it set conditions through mandatory waiting periods or consumer protection standards for assisted suicide associations.

At the moment, assisted suicide is legal only in a few other places. Switzerland, the Netherlands, in the Australian state of Victoria and in some American states.