The Corner

Law & the Courts

Germany’s Highest Court Creates Right to ‘Self-Determined Death’

Outside of Germany’s Constitutional Court headquarters in Karlsruhe, Germany, in 2016. (Ralph Orlowski/Reuters)

The logic of euthanasia/assisted suicide has always pointed towards a right to death-on-demand. Assisted-suicide activists deny it for reasons of expediency. But the logic is irrefutable. If there is a “right to die,” how can it be limited to restricting categories?

Well, the Federal Constitutional Court, Germany’s highest judicial body, has gone there and without equivocation. In overturning a legal ban on “professional assisted suicide,” i.e., by doctors, the court ruled that there is virtually an unlimited right “to a self-determined death” — and to also receive help from others in achieving that end. From the AFP story (my emphasis):

Judge Andreas Vosskuhle at the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe said the right to a self-determined death included “the freedom to take one’s life and seek help doing so”.

The court also surprised observers by explicitly stating that the right to assisted suicide services should not be limited to the seriously or incurably ill.

The freedom to choose one’s death “is guaranteed in all stages of a person’s existence”, the verdict read.

This right to receive help dying wouldn’t be limited do doctor-assisted suicide, by the way. An earlier ruling legalized assisted suicide for reasons that did not include a financial consideration.

In what seems more of an afterthought than a principled concern, the court said brakes could be tapped to delay a planned suicide, such as waiting periods. But ultimately, if somebody wants to commit suicide, the right to do so is apparently absolute based on the German constitution’s guarantee of the right to personal freedom and dignity:

Judge Vosskuhle acknowledged that the ruling would not please everyone but said the decision of those wishing to end their lives had to be respected. “We may regret their decision and try everything we can do change their minds but ultimately we must accept their freedom to choose,” he said.

It cannot be denied any longer. The long-predicted (here’s a 2007 warning from me) lethal logical end of accepting the values that underlie the assisted suicide/euthanasia movement — death for virtually anyone who wants to die for any reason — has officially been reached. This would seem to include at least mature children, since childhood is a stage of a person’s existence. Right?

So no more telling us that assisted suicide is only for the terminally ill! No more telling us that rigid guidelines will protect against abuse! Basta! Germany is now officially a suicide culture. If we keep hearkening to the siren song of death emanating from assisted/suicide euthanasia advocates here, sooner or later, we will be too.

Somewhere, Jack Kevorkian is smiling.

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