The survey, carried out by pollsters Emnid, found that 49 percent of Germans would be in favour of lifting the ban on privately-run euthanasia services. Just 41 percent said they would be against, Sunday’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported.
Last week, Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said that she was going to present a redrafted version of the country’s assisted suicide laws in parliament.
The new laws would see doctors, carers and close family being able to help someone end their life without facing punishment. Oddly, Emnid found that only 47 percent of the 501 people they asked, approved of this, as opposed to the 49 percent who approved lifting the ban on commercial euthanasia.
But if the law is altered, providing a commercial euthanasia service would still be illegal, punishable by a two-year prison sentence. Euthanasia businesses were outlawed in Germany in 2009, and Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said the ban was not up for negotiation.
But the suggested changes have provoked outcry from critics and sparked a debate within Germany’s ruling coalition.
Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger is a member of the Free Democratic Party, the junior partner of the coalition, and members of the main governing party – the Christian Democratic Union – have said the distinction between commercial and non-commercial euthanasia is false and misleading.
Social Democratic Party legal expert Edgar Franke told regional newspaper Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung that assisted suicide was an ethical issue that party-politics had no business with.