- Prohibition of assisted suicide struck down
- Slippery slope of euthanasia evident in countries like Belgium, the Netherlands
BERLIN (26 February 2020) – Today, the German Constitutional Court struck down the prohibition of assisted suicide. The court reviewed paragraph 217 of the German criminal code. The legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide in other European countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands has led to a dramatic increase in the number of euthanasia deaths each year. Belgium’s laws and the legalization of euthanasia are currently being challenged at the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Mortier v. Belgium.
“A fair and just society cares for its most vulnerable. Once we open the door to intentional killing, there is no logical stopping point. This is a worrying decision of the German Constitutional Court and clearly a big step in the wrong direction. In countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands, the number of euthanasia cases continues to increase every year since legalization. Laws protecting the inherent dignity of every human life must be strengthened rather than weakened in order to protect the sick, suffering, elderly, and most vulnerable in our society. They deserve our utmost care and respect. This decision sends the opposite message,” said Felix Böllmann, a German lawyer and Legal Counsel for ADF International.
In today’s decision, the Federal Constitutional Court acknowledged the risks of abuse but nonetheless ruled that an individual has a right to determination which takes precedence.
Tom Mortier’s mother was euthanized in 2012. Without any prior consultation, Mortier only found out one day later with the explanation that she had been suffering with ‘untreatable depression’. These events happened in Belgium, where euthanasia is legal. The law specifies that the person must be in a ‘medically futile condition of constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering that cannot be alleviated, resulting from a serious and incurable disorder caused by illness or accident.’ Tom’s mother was physically healthy, and her treating psychiatrist of more than 20 years confirmed that she did not satisfy the requirements of the Belgian euthanasia law.
In January 2019, the European Court of Human Rights agreed to hear Tom Mortier’s case. ADF International is representing him before the Court. Currently, the Court is waiting for Belgium to submit its arguments before it will make a decision.
“International law has never established a so-called ‘right to die.’ On the contrary, it robustly affirms the right to life – particularly for the most vulnerable among us. A look at the sad facts of Tom Mortier’s case exposes the lie that euthanasia is good for society,” said Robert Clarke, Deputy Director of ADF International, who represents Tom Mortier before the Court.
Affirm Dignity | End Euthanasia
In October 2019, ADF International launched the global Affirm Dignity | End Euthanasia campaign. It shares information on the reality of euthanasia through personal stories and testimonies, ongoing legal cases, and research into the impact of euthanasia on individuals and society. It encourages people all over the world to speak up for the right to life and affirm every person’s inherent dignity.