Skip to content

German Constitutional Court: German ban on assisted suicide is against the Constitution

On Wednesday February 26, the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) in Karlsruhe declared the German ban on assisted suicide (that exists since 2015) unconstitutional. This is a great victory for the people who brought this ban to court, among others: seriously ill patients and doctors.

The court declared that the general right of personality, as laid down in the German constitution, includes a right to self-determined death. This right includes the freedom to commit suicide and to use the voluntary help of third parties. The decision taken by the individual in exercising this right to end his life in accordance with his understanding of the quality of life and the meaningfulness of his own existence must be respected as an act of autonomous self-determination by the state and society. With this reasoning, the court decided that the prohibition on business-related promotion of suicide, which was laid down in Section 217 of the Criminal Code (StGB), violates the Constitution, because it virtually depletes the possibilities of assisted suicide. It does not follow from this that this kind of legislation is always unconstitutional. However, the legislator must ensure that the right of the individual to end his life in a self-determined manner has sufficient space to be used and developed.

The press release of the court and the full judgment can be found here

Dignitas Switzerland came with a reaction about the following steps. Read the original document in German or the translated tekst in English