German lawmakers [official website, in German] approved a bill [press release, in German] Friday allowing assisted suicide for “altruistic motives” but banning the practice in cases where it is being conducted on a “business” basis. Lawmakers voted in favor of the bill despite fears that it could lead to charges against doctors. The bill threatens up to three years in jail for anyone who offers suicide to someone else on “business” terms. It was one of four bills considered. The four proposed bills ranged from fully permitting assisted suicide as long as it is not for profit, to a near-complete ban. The version accepted found its place in the middle of both of these extremes. Assisted suicide in Germany was neither permitted nor banned by law prior to the enactment of this bill. Former Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries [NYT report] said this bill “will open an era of great legal uncertainty” and will be appealed to the Federal Constitutional Court.
The right to die [JURIST news archive] has been a contentious issue around the world as well as in the US. Last month California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that provides terminally ill patients the right to die [JURIST report]. In May a Dutch court cleared a man [JURIST report] of all criminal charges for assisting his 99-year-old mother to commit suicide. In April a South African judge ruled [JURIST report] that a terminally ill man had a right to assisted suicide with no legal or professional consequences for the participating doctor. In February the Supreme Court of Canada struck down [JURIST report] the country’s ban on medically assisted suicide.