Dignifying Death

Germany Grapples with Assisted Suicide

euthanasia _Ralf Hirschberger_dpa
Euthanasia remains taboo in Germany.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany is facing a difficult debate about the ethics surrounding the right to take one’s own life.

  • Facts


    • On November 6, the German parliament is to debate four motions submitted to amend the existing legislation relating to assisted suicide.
    • The government motion would allow for assisted suicide carried out by relatives but make it illegal for a business to profit from it.
    • Other amendments would be more or less liberal, including one motion allowing doctors to assist and another imposing jail sentences on anyone assisting.
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Carola Reimann’s father suffered from cancer. An inoperable tumor blocked his bile duct, requiring regular trips to the hospital last year. Soon, he was discussing crucial matters with other patients, men over 70 from a generation that rarely spoke of such personal things. They asked each other about the pain they were facing, how much they could endure and how they could die if they no longer wanted to suffer.

“Through my father, I have seen the insides of many hospital rooms,” Ms. Reimann said.

She’s not only a daughter who, along with other family members, personally experienced the agony of an ill loved one. She also is among the politicians seeking answers to such questions. As deputy parliamentary leader of the center-left Social Democratic Party, and was previously the chairwoman of the Bundestag’s health committee. What once was private anguish has become political. Ms. Reimann’s father didn’t want to suffer from agonizing pain, but didn’t want to confide his wishes to the doctors in the Catholic hospital or with the other patients.

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