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MPs set out assisted suicide bill

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MPs set out assisted suicide bill
Photo: DPA
08:41 CEST+02:00
A group of MPs from the German coalition government presented a bill on Wednesday which would hand doctors the right to perform assisted suicide.

According to the bill, doctors would be allowed to give patients lethal doses of medication when the patient has a mortal illness and is suffering extreme pain.

The bill has cross party support and was presented jointly by Peter Hintze of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Carola Reimann deputy leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in the Bundestag (German Parliament).

The MPs say that the bill aims to bring clarification to an issue which is currently practiced differently in different parts of the country. In Bavaria, doctors currently practice assisted suicide whereas in Berlin, the medical chamber forbids it.

But the president of the Federal Medical Chamber (BÄK) Frank Ulrich Montgomery said that he was against the proposal.

"One shouldn't die on account of one's doctor. Rather the doctors should assist you while you die," he told ARD's Morgenmagazin.

The first reading of the bill is set for July 2nd, shortly before the summer break. In November the Bundestag is expected to vote on the bill.

Reimann said that if the bill were to become law, the financial basis behind "assisted suicide clubs" would be undermined and nobody would need to travel abroad for the purpose in the future.

Hintze pointed out that helping someone commit suicide has been de facto legal in Germany for 150 years, as one cannot face charges for it.

But the law is not without its opponents as several other political groups plan to propose their own bills on the matter.

One group of CDU politicians, led by Patrick Sensburg (CDU) and Thomas Dörflinger (CDU), want to tighten the restrictions on assisted suicide and make any form of assistance illegal except in cases where the person is suffering under extreme pain.

A group of Green and Linke (Left Party) politicians meanwhile wants to protect the fact that assisting in a suicide is not punishable by law while strengthening the sentencing against those who do so for personal profit.

A further group which counts members from all four major parties (Union, SPD, Green and Linke) wants to make it punishable to promote assisted suicide for financial gain.

All the MPs involved in the various groups agree though that clearer laws on assisted suicide are necessary to help those in palliative care.

 
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