Two years ago, the Federal Constitutional Court overturned the regulation on assisted suicide and declared it null and void. The legal committee of the Bundestag is now dealing with three draft laws. It’s time to dispel some myths, says our guest author.
Suicidal thoughts fluctuate and are very common. Most people simply don’t want to go on living the way it is for them. This can be due to health or other personal crises. In other cases, people deliberately take stock of their lives and decide that enough is enough. People should get the help they need.
This can be help to commit suicide, but in most cases it is help, advice, someone who listens that banishes the suicidal idea. This help and advice should have a chance to reach people sooner than a quick offer to end their life for good.
SPD politician Lars Castellucci has been a member of the German Bundestag since 2013. There he is deputy chairman of the interior committee, which he has been acting head of since January 2022.
Regulations in criminal law are not there to punish, but to create norm behavior by making it clear what is legal and what is not. The responsibility for a suicide must lie with the people involved and not with a government agency. That’s the other side of self-determination, that you also take responsibility for decisions.
None of the draft laws before the German Bundestag regulates a ban on assisted suicide. Suicide is allowed and helping with a allowed cause cannot and should not be forbidden. Of course, no one can be obliged to help either, because the decision to participate in a suicide or not remains a personal decision of conscience.
Self-determination also applies here. The so-called business-like activity, i.e. an organized activity aimed at repeated assistance with suicide, remains in the proposal of the group made up of MPs from all democratic parliamentary groups, to which I belong, but only permitted on the condition that a protection concept is observed. This protection concept provides for expert opinions and waiting periods to help ensure the self-determination of all people, including vulnerable groups, and the permanence of the suicidal wish.
This corresponds to the mandate of the Federal Constitutional Court. There it says, among other things: “The state must ensure that the decision to commit suicide is based on free will.” Assisted suicide is not prohibited, but on the contrary by changing the Narcotics Act in all three available designs.
dr Tatjana Reichhart, together with the systemic consultant, therapist and teaching trainer Claudia Pusch, shows how to find out one’s own needs and potential, how to let go of perceived heteronomy: to live authentically and happily without becoming selfish.
Karin Dalka writes in the Frankfurter Rundschau that the euthanasia organizations would ensure that “a decision to commit suicide was made independently, well thought out and with knowledge of alternatives”. Well, if that is the case, there is no problem at all for these organizations, because that is the standard that will be set in the bill. And because it is a matter of life and death and is therefore irreversible and serious, this standard is reinforced with criminal law. So: regulate yes, ban no.
With our design, we want to give people access to suicide assistance. But we don’t want to encourage suicide. Those who wish to die can receive counseling and access to lethal drugs. If they do not have a doctor to prescribe the drug, they can contact a euthanasia organization. Our draft law is an invitation from all democratic parliamentary groups in the German Bundestag to implement the judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court and to effectively protect the self-determination of all people.