Thursday November 29, 2007

German Euthanasia Activists Announce Upcoming Illegal Assisted Suicide

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

GERMANY, November 29, 2007 ( – Uwe-Christian Arnold, the deputy director of Dignitate, the German branch of Dignitas, has announced plans to set a legal precedent by carrying out an assisted suicide in Germany.

On November 9th, LifeSiteNews reported on the use of parked cars by Dignitas to carry out the assisted suicides of two Germans in Switzerland. More than half of the people who have killed themselves using Dignitas’ services in Switzerland have been Germans.

The ambiguity of German laws regarding assisted suicide has set the stage for the latest development, but the plan to carry out the assisted suicide has raised a storm of protest. The head of the German Doctors’ Association has called for Dignitate to be banned.

When asked in a Deutsche Welle interview why he was trying to set a legal precedent in Germany, Arnold said, “We are looking to set a test case because it is not clear whether a person can be prosecuted if they do not go to the aid of a person who is dying,” and that it is “a pressing social need.”

Thomas Schindler, head of the Bonn-based German Society for Palliative Medicine, said improvement and expansion of hospices and palliative care in Germany is the answer to the debate about assisted suicide, not encouraging the terminally ill to kill themselves or allowing organizations such as Dignitate a foothold in the country.

“Death and dying are still touchy subjects in our society and politicians have only paid lip service until now,” Schindler said, but he sees hope in the German Health Ministry’s announcement to “improve availability of care for persons suffering from incurable
illnesses in such a manner as to relieve their pain as far as possible and provide emotional and spiritual care to improve the quality of their lives so that they can die in dignity.”

Josef Winkler, a Green Party parliamentarian and member of the Commission on Ethics and Law in Medicine, said that given the debate on assisted suicide, the immediate goal is to drastically increase the number of well-organized hospices in the country.

“Most people aren’t scared of dying,” Winkler pointed out in a Deutsche Welle report. “They’re just scared of dying alone. There’s an extremely low number of cases where doctors really can’t help a patient anymore, and with the current advances in medicine and palliative care, dying patients do have a chance to live pain-free.”

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