How people can die with dignity? What help is available to people who want to determine the time of their own death?? The most important information on euthanasia.
Right to self-determined dying
The Federal Constitutional Court has ruled on the "right to a self-determined death". For more information, see our news story Federal Constitutional Court judges overturn euthanasia law.
A living will for the last phase of life
Everyone has the right to decide freely and responsibly about his or her own death. The safest way is a living will. In this document, a person can state in writing that, in an end-of-life situation in which he or she is permanently incapable of giving consent and making decisions, for example after a serious accident or due to a serious illness, he or she does not wish to be artificially ventilated or to do without a feeding tube. Doctors must then comply with a living will.
This also applies if a patient does not have an advance directive, but has expressly stated that he does not wish to be treated further. Then the only thing that matters is his wish. This also applies if the person concerned can no longer express his or her wishes, but it must be assumed that he or she would not want to continue treatment.
Pain management can shorten lifespan
Indirect euthanasia is not punishable, for example when doctors administer pain-relieving medication, for example in the final stages of cancer with the patient’s consent. Even if the treatment – as an undesirable side effect – possibly shortens the patient’s life.
Doctors are also permitted to refrain from, limit or terminate medical treatment, such as artificial nutrition or artificial respiration, if this corresponds to the patient’s actual wishes. An interruption of treatment must serve to allow a natural disease process to run its course, which without treatment will lead to death. This was clarified by the Federal Court of Justice in a ruling in 2010. The basic sentence dealt with the difference between passive and active assistance in dying (file number 2 StR 454/09).
You can specify this in a living will
You can take precautions in healthy days with a written living will in the event that you are no longer able to talk to doctors or relatives and make decisions yourself at some point in the future. In a living will, you specify the illnesses for which you consent to certain medical treatments and examinations and those for which you refuse. If you later become permanently incapable of giving consent and making decisions, this helps doctors and relatives to comply with your wishes.
Guidebook "My living will". If you want to deal with the topic of living wills, the guidebook "Meine Patientenverfugung" will help you with the further main points Palliativmedizin, dying assistance and organ donation. Lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists and ethics officers have their say. The councellor contains all forms for the legal precaution: 144 sides, 14,90 euro (free supply). The PDF/E-book version costs 11,99 Euro. Guidebook "The precautionary set . Information on legal precautions and forms for health care proxies and living wills can be found in Finanztest’s precautionary kit. The guidebook leads step by step through the forms. You get the precaution set at the price of 14.90 euros in the book trade and in the test.de-Shop. Free Special . Our free special offers a lot of information about legal precautionary measures.
Departing from life with the help of others
Is someone allowed to take his or her own life with the help of other people?? Yes, in Germany, assisted suicide is exempt from punishment under certain conditions. The reason: suicide is not punishable, so assisting suicide is not punishable either.
Assisted suicide, also known as assisted suicide, is a deliberate act of assistance by a person that enables a seriously ill or terminally ill person to die by his or her own hand, for example by procuring or providing a suitable drug that the seriously ill or terminally ill person takes himself or herself. Importantly: The concerning must go the last step themselves and take for instance the deadly working medicine themselves – from free decision.
Independent. Objective. Incorruptible.
Help from doctors possible
Patients who have an unavoidable wish to die may also seek help from doctors. Doctors can decide freely and solely on the basis of their conscience whether to assist suicidal persons in dying. Until the beginning of 2021, this was largely prohibited for many physicians due to professional regulations.
On the 124. However, it was decided at the 5th German Medical Congress in May 2021 to remove the professional ban on assisted suicide from the (model) professional code of conduct. In the interview, Dr. Josef Mischo, Chairman of the Professional Regulation Committees of the German Medical Association, on what the resolution of the Medical Council means for patients and doctors.
Active euthanasia is forbidden
Help is punishable if the helper himself causes or accelerates the death of the other, for example by administering an overdose of a lethal drug. If the so-called Tatherr-schaft does not lie with the patient, but with a "third", this makes itself punishable. The active killing of a human being is punishable in the penal code in sections 212 (manslaughter) and 216 (killing on demand).
Acquisition of a lethal drug not permitted
Patients in Germany have no access to lethal anesthetics. The drug that some terminally ill patients wish for in a hopeless situation and extreme emergency is a drug with the active ingredient sodium pentobarbital.
The active ingredient falls under the narcotics law, there is no approved finished drug. The dispensing of drugs that fall under the Narcotics Act is only permitted under strict conditions. The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) must allow the purchase of the drug. Thus patients may receive the anesthetic, if a medical prescription is present and the therapeutic goal lies in it – so the highest-judicial iurisdiction – illnesses to heal or to alleviate. This is not the case with a lethal dose.
A dying man goes to court
It remains to be seen whether this will be the case or whether there will be a legal regulation on access to lethal anesthetics in the future. Why one of his clients went to court to obtain a drug that would safely help him die, explains lawyer Robert Robbruch in an interview.
This topic was published in July 2020. We last updated it in July 2021. Previously posted user comments refer to an older version.