World Youth Alliance is disheartened by the February 26 judgment of the German Constitutional Court (BVerfG) on the constitutionality of Section 217 of the German Criminal Code that put a ban on offering “businesslike” (intention to act repeatedly) assistance in suicide. In its decision in six constitutional complaints brought by different individuals and organisations, the Court came to the conclusion that the provision is unconstitutional and thus null and void. As a result, it is now legal to assist a person in ending his or her life.
This is the first time the Court has recognized a “right to self-determined dying” as part of the right to personal development protected under the German Basic Law. However, this should not be interpreted as respecting human dignity, but quite the opposite. As our White Paper on the topic notes, the exercise of one’s autonomy is always limited by the protection of fundamental goods of a society, such as the protection of human life. The provision which was struck down had the intention of excluding undue pressure and complying with the duty of protecting the right to life, as defined in the German Basic Law. It is important to note that the intentional killing of another human being, even at their explicit request (euthanasia) remains illegal in Germany. Regardless, WYA regrets the risk that this poses to vulnerable persons.