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A third of doctors would help terminally ill die

The Local · 17 Jul 2010, 14:07

Published: 17 Jul 2010 14:07 GMT+02:00

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The survey also shows that around a quarter of doctors would consider actively participating in the death of a patient, according to the analysis, reported Der Spiegel.

President of the German medical association Jörg-Dietrich Hoppe said doctors should not fear being prosecuted if they help a terminally ill person kill themselves, as assisting someone to commit suicide does not attract a criminal punishment.

“If a doctor is fine with it ethically, to help someone commit suicide, then they can do that under current conditions,” he said.

“There are ways in which doctors can help their patients without fear of being punished – for example via issuing a prescription.”

He said he could not personally accept the idea, but added, “I always have understanding for individual cases. I don’t know how many do it. But much happens unofficially and the prosecutors do not take action.”

The survey, conducted by the Allensbach polling company for the medical association, questioned 527 representative doctors from various disciplines. It suggested more than a third of medics had been asked for help in committing suicide, a rate which rose to half among general practitioners.

Of those doctors who regularly treat those with fatal conditions, 47 percent said they are asked for help to commit suicide ‘frequently’. Around a third said they wanted to see a legal regulation introduced.

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The results show a sizeable number of doctors have in practice turned their back on the official opinion which has always been that German doctors would not help suicide either actively or passively.

Der Spiegel said that the survey had been organised in response to a poll it conducted in 2008 which showed similar results which had shocked doctors representatives. This latest poll is likely to reignite the debate over suicide within the medical community.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:22 July 17, 2010 by bernie1927
Here in the US this is a very hot potato. Dr. Kervorkian spent time in prison and yet, he only made his help available after a thorough analysis of the situation and with the consent of the next of kin and the full consent of the patient. He did not actively commit the act but made it possible for the patient to "throw the switch". With the proper checks and balances I see nothing wrong with this. Again, religion is the reason behind this issue !! It should be up to the individual patient to make this decision.
21:51 July 17, 2010 by derExDeutsche
I don't know. I don't like to see pain and suffering, obviously. But isn't this a dangerous road to be heading down?

Death, Pain, Suffering, its all a part of life. Do we really need to put doctors, who in turn answer to Govt. Insurance coffers, in charge of these decisions?

Would some Doctors encourage it more than others? I have an Aunt who drives me crazy.

What would this system look like in 20 years? And to what extent can this be expanded on in the future? How much money could we save, if instead of raising the Retirement age, we lower the life expectancy? Bye, bye Germans!
14:46 July 18, 2010 by ReaderX
Well what's the difference in taking the life or allowing one to takes one's own life when the same system allows for taking the life of an unborn child (abortion).

I mean why not, to allow one and not the other is hypocritical at best. Playing god at worst.
20:50 July 18, 2010 by wxman
I agree, choice should be up to the individual. What concerns me, is if the choice is taken away. It's been done before. Remember "Lebensunwertes Leben"??
22:50 July 18, 2010 by Jasmine33
"I don't know. I don't like to see pain and suffering, obviously. But isn't this a dangerous road to be heading down?

Death, Pain, Suffering, its all a part of life. Do we really need to put doctors, who in turn answer to Govt. Insurance coffers, in charge of these decisions?"


You are right, derExDeutsche, in that death, pain and suffering are all part of life. But where is the line drawn when a patient has been in such prolonged pain and suffering with absolutely no hope of recovery and quality of life? I know we are talking about human life here, but would most people let an animal suffer prolonged with a terrible disease or injury? I have what is called a Living Will, in that should I be injured or suffer disease to the point of no recovery I want no heroic measures other than to be kept comfortable - that is, no feeding tubes, no IV's, no CPR, no respirators - none of that. I don't call that committing suicide, though some might, but I call it making my own choice and taking responsibility for that choice. Yes, this is a touchy subject with many different opinions, and as a believer in God I know that He will help me make the right decision. There are those that might feel a human should be kept alive, even though racked in pain and suffering, possibly for years, and that when they did die it was a "natural death" and that person had fought a good battle and earned some kind of reward ( a spiritual gold star so to speak). Well, I've already made up my mind and don't feel I'd be condemned to the burning fires of hell because I chose not to be kept alive and suffering on some man-made machine.
04:31 July 19, 2010 by derExDeutsche
Yes, Jasmine, you make perfect sense. I agree completely, in theory. What worries me is the 'in Practice' part.

MAny people Euthanize pets because they can not afford the medical help their pets need. WIll this be the case with people, too?

Considering how old and senile some can get, also many without family, who is will make this decision? And who would make sure rules are followed? Because God knows, if money can be saved/not spent/another bed made free....

It just seems like the system is already set up in such a way, to make it ripe for abuse/corruption. And Germans at the forefront of Euthanasia? I'm not convinced it will end well.
04:49 July 19, 2010 by Jasmine33
I see what you mean, derExDeutsche, and you are right in that abuse/corruption could very well take place. Seems everything hinges mainly on money, doesn't it? Scary prospect indeed.
15:05 July 19, 2010 by Adheeb
Take a look around the world. The most advanced educationally, culturally, economically, socially and in all other measurable categories are peoples either in Europe -or- ethnically from European extraction. I'm not making a 'racist' remark here ... just trying to make a statement based on fact.

The question is, why did Europe advance far faster than others. As I see it, Europeans had the great, great benefit of living in a world surrounding them with a world view based on Christian truth. You can see this in other places in the world as well. People live best where Christianity has had its greatest impact.

Now we are faced (not just Germany but the Western world as a whole) with the question of euthanasia . We would do well to ask, 'What would Jesus do?
17:25 July 20, 2010 by Jasmine33
Well I don't know, but I do know if I die as requested by being kept comfortable, no heroic measures, I hope I'm listening to the Oldies in the 50's and 60's played in the US and perhaps other countries. Chuck Berry for one is great. What a way to go out, yeah.
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