Living together. Living better.

The Bundestag is currently debating a very sensitive topic, the assisted suicide. Following the abolition of the 2015 law banning assisted suicide, it is now necessary to create a new legislature on the subject. The issue that arises is ethical in character and is based on the following question: what position can politics afford to take? The new regulation should reconcile the protection of the individual’s self-determination with the protection of life.

It is clear from the current debates that political factions have very different perspectives; between the search for principles of unconstitutionality and the numerous proposals aimed at affirming a path that has the person and not suicide as its main focus. However, the aim of the various proposals is to strongly oppose the feared ‘social normalization’ of assisted suicide.

The idea of the new law is to create a legal procedure that provides access to this type of assistance in a clear and transparent manner. The pathway to assisted suicide must have several stages, including for example counseling, strong psychological support in crisis situations and long waiting periods between meetings in order to better judge the patient’s will.

Doctors also discuss the ambivalence of their role in this regard, i.e. whether it is their competence to assist a patient who decides to die; whether they can be legally authorized or whether the law should prohibit their intervention. In any case, doctors could offer a great deal of help by evaluating a possible serious illness and comparing possible medical alternatives.

Without doubt there is already an element that could make the question of assisted suicide less complex in certain situations, namely the living will. With it, one can declare which medical procedures are to be carried out or omitted if one is no longer able to decide for oneself.