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ADF International welcomes Germany’s top administrative court ruling on euthanasia – Statement by Dr. Felix Böllmann: “Difference between alleviation of suffering and killing has been confirmed.” 

  • Federal Administrative Court (Leipzig): There is no right to purchase a compound for suicide. Ending one’s own life is fundamentally not a medical service.  
  • Böllmann: Everyone has the right to have their life protected from and by everyone.” 

Vienna/Leipzig (November 08, 2023) The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig has issued a landmark ruling. According to the court, the free availability of lethal compounds is not compatible with the states duty to protect the general public

The official press release of the court clarifies: medical care includes “the use of an anaesthetic to cure or alleviate illness or pathological complaints.” This does not entail (self-)killing. In principle, ending ones own life does not have such a therapeutic purpose. 

We welcome the ruling of the Federal Administrative Court. The court makes a clear distinction between medical means of healing, alleviation, and health promotion and the demand for killing. Suicide is not a health service. The task of doctors and medical professionalis to save lives and provide support instead of killing,” says Dr. Felix Böllmann, German lawyer and head of the European activities of the human rights organization ADF International.  

Court strengthens protection framework  

The court also states that the “design of the protection framework to prevent misuse and abuse” of lethal substances plays an important role.  

Dr. Felix Böllmann continued: “The current legal situation remains unsatisfactory since the German Constitutional Court made a dramatic shift, leaving the most vulnerable people in society unprotected from the dangers of assisted dying while allowing commercial and ideological interests to dominate the scene. Nevertheless, It is good that the federal administrative court mentions and strengthens the state’s concept of protecting the life of every individual. Everyone has a right to life. And everyone has the right to have their life protected from and by everyone. Indeed, the state has a legal obligation to systematically protect every human life. A look at other countries shows that the misuse of lethal means can never be prevented. For this reason alone, the state’s framework of protection and prevention must place high demands on the delivery of such compounds.”   

The ruling comes amid an international debate on the protection of people at the end of life. A medical study recently revealed that several people with autism and intellectual disabilities were euthanized in the Netherlands. In Canada, according to the latest figures, one in 25 people die by euthanasia. In spring, euthanasia for drug addicts is also to be introduced in Canada.  

Last year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in a precedent-setting case on euthanasia in Europe. While the Court did not rule against Belgium’s euthanasia law, it did find that Belgium had violated the woman’s right to life in the case of the mother of Tom Mortier, a chemist and university lecturer. Mortier’s mother suffered from temporary depression. She was killed by an injection by a lobbyist for euthanasia. The doctor who killed her, who had no psychological expertise whatsoever, also sat on the committee that was supposed to “independently” investigate the case of euthanasia. ADF International represented Tom Mortier before the ECtHR. 

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