By Alex SchadenbergInternational Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition first published on Alex's blog.
The German parliament will be debating euthanasia and/or assisted suicide in their lower house today. According to the media, there is no bill before parliament, but the members are debating between their divided positions. The media has reported that:
No legislation is on the table yet, but five caucuses have developed on the issue, mostly crossing party lines. Some want to tighten rules against euthanasia, and others to legalize it as Belgium and the Netherlands have done.
Germany currently permits doctors to cease life-extending treatment or to administer powerful and dangerous sedatives at a dying person's request, but assisting a suicide is a crime. The debate in the Bundestag was a first airing of the issue before bills are moved for debate.
According to the media, German Health Minister opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Health Minister Hermann Groehe said he opposed doctors assisting suicide. He said Germany should instead expand its network of hospices, so everyone has access to palliative care and the best painkillers while dying.
The history of euthanasia in Germany should be enough to caution German parliamentarians.
Once you give physicians the right, in law, to cause death, ethical boundaries prohibiting the intentional killing of human beings are forever changed. The result is what we have seen in the Netherlands and Belgium where euthanasia began as a way of dealing with the "hard cases" and has now expanded to include euthanasia for children, people with dementia, people with psychiatric issues, loneliness, and for those who are "tired of living"
There is also significant number of unreported euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is the under-reported cases that are often related to abuses that include the intentional assisted deaths without explicit request.