Although no legalisation of any form of aid in dying is tabled, the Bundestag started a debate on euthanasia recently. Five caucuses have developed on the issue, mostly crossing party lines. Some want to tighten rules against euthanasia, and others to legalize it as Belgium and the Netherlands have done.
Germany currently permits doctors to cease life-extending treatment or to administer powerful and dangerous sedatives at a dying person‘s request, but assisting a suicide is a crime. The debate in the Bundestag was a first airing of the issue before bills are moved for debate.
An unusual, highly emotional debate in German parliament ended with the majority expressing support for prohibiting organized assisted suicide. But not all representatives called for an outright ban of the practice. Such debates are a rarity in the Bundestag. Over the course of five hours, 48 speakers took to the podium – and there wasn’t even a bill up for debate. Parliamentarians clearly felt it was important to take the time for an open discussion on an unusual topic that Bundestag President Norbert Lammert called the “most demanding legislative procedure” of the current legislative period.
Health Minister Hermann Gröhe said he opposed doctors assisting suicide. He said Germany should instead expand its network of hospices, so everyone has access to palliative care and the best painkillers while dying.
Lammert said the Bundestag would resume the debate next year once the different groups‘ alternative bills have been drafted.