Intended for healthcare professionals


German Bundestag debates proposed law on assisted suicide

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 18 November 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6896
  1. Ned Stafford
  1. 1Hamburg

The Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, has officially opened debate on a planned new law to regulate assisted suicide. Some 48 members of the 631 member body stepped to the podium to express their views during a five hour session.

In opening the floor to the debate on 13 November Norbert Lammert, Bundestag president, described the enactment of an assisted suicide law as “perhaps the most challenging project of this legislative period.” And in addition to the initial Bundestag debate five groups of MPs, some crossing party lines, issued position papers outlining their opinions on this highly controversial issue.1 2 3 4 5

A landmark German court ruling in 2010 gave patients the right to refuse medical treatments designed to prolong their life6—described in Germany as passive assisted suicide. But assisting in an “active” suicide is not legally regulated, leaving a grey area for prosecutorial interpretation that proponents …

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