How was the RSS ban lifted

Ban on commercial euthanasia lifted - What that means

What the Federal Constitutional Court decided

The Federal Constitutional Court has clearly positioned itself: Everyone has the freedom to take their own life. This is an expression of the right to self-determination from the Basic Law. This right also includes the voluntary help of third parties. That is why, according to the Constitutional Court, the prohibition on promoting suicide as part of business activities could not be upheld. This law has made the right to assisted suicide in fact impossible in some cases. For some people, being helped by others is the only way they can commit suicide. Therefore, the court annulled the law in February 2020.

Associations and doctors are now allowed to help the patient to kill himself. This can be done, for example, by providing and preparing medication. However, the patient must continue to take these of their own free will.

Is euthanasia allowed now?

Such a general statement cannot be made. The court's decision only concerns assisting suicide through business promotion.

It is important that there are several types of euthanasia:

  • Assisted or assisted suicide

    Assisted suicide means that a third party (suicide helper) provides everything necessary so that the person concerned can kill himself. The person concerned has to take the medication himself. This last act must not be carried out by the helper.

    Aid to suicide is no longer punishable after the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court. Even if this is carried out in a business-like manner.
  • Passive euthanasia

    If life-sustaining measures are not even started or broken off, one speaks of passive euthanasia. This is better known as discontinuing treatment or "letting it die". This includes, for example, not using artificial respiration or artificial nutrition.

    Passive euthanasia is not a criminal offense and is therefore permitted if it fulfills the express will of the person concerned. You can describe this in a living will, for example.
  • Indirect euthanasia

    These are palliative measures that use strong pain relievers, such as morphine. Because even these can (at least in theory) shorten life. But first and foremost, it comes down to improving the patient's condition and alleviating suffering. With this indirect euthanasia, life may therefore be shortened in favor of freedom from pain. It is therefore better to use the term "end-of-life therapies".

    Indirect euthanasia is also allowed. You can also regulate these in the living will.
  • Active euthanasia

    Active euthanasia means that a third party acts to kill another. At the express and serious request of the patient, he administers a drug which leads to death in a short time.

    Active euthanasia (killing on request) is still a criminal offense under Section 216 of the Criminal Code.

Which rules on euthanasia can be implemented in the living will?

The living will regulates what to do and what to refrain from medical treatment in the event that a person can no longer give his or her consent. In an advance directive, it can be specified for certain situations that are to be described which measures are desired and which measures are rejected.

In this way it can also be regulated how palliative medical measures are to be dealt with. This may affect indirect euthanasia. For example, you may wish that treatment should take place even if the treatment is accompanied by a reduction in the lifetime.

For the described application situations, you can also make provisions in advance in the living will in order to give your consent to the start of or a waiver of a life-sustaining measure such as artificial nutrition, hydration or dialysis.

However, you can also request that the treatment be discontinued. This means that a measure that has already started can be ended again. This concerns what is known as "passive euthanasia".

Important is: A measure can be started first, but then canceled if it turns out that it no longer promises success. It is then not about active euthanasia, but about failure to continue. It is therefore unpunished (decision of the BGH, August 18, 2010 - 2 StR 454/09).

Incidentally, we provide detailed information on living wills in a separate article. You will also find a detailed text on the power of attorney and care decree.

We also have two guides that provide valuable information and material on living wills, power of attorney and care will:

Do not forget the power of attorney and supervision order

It is important that you appoint a person of trust who will enforce the will you have laid down in the living will. Neither the spouse nor the children can do this automatically. You must authorize them to do so. Such a power of attorney is recommended, otherwise all decisions will initially stand still until the supervisory court has appointed a supervisor.

If supervision is required, you can use a supervision decree to specify who should be the supervisor. Or who shouldn't be a supervisor under any circumstances. The guardianship court is then obliged to appoint the named person as guardian (unless there are serious reasons against it).