Two bills aimed at providing a legal framework for euthanasia have just been presented to the Bundestag. At the same time, the Federal Order of Physicians has just erased the ban on assisted suicide from its code of ethics, which had hitherto been imposed on all practitioners.
Along the Rhine, no one dares speak of euthanasia: a term which is still one of the rare taboos in German society, because it inevitably evokes the macabre Aktion T4 plan implemented in 1939 by the National Socialist regime, in order to eliminate people with disabilities.
Yet this is the reality that German parliamentarians are trying to revive from its ashes, under the aseptic expression of assisted suicide.
On April 21, 2021, two bills intended to legalize assisted suicide (Sterbehilfe, in the language of Goethe) were tabled in the Bundestag.
The first is cross-partisan, supported by Die Grüne (the Greens) and a few Christian Democrats from the CDU. It provides for the liberalization of assisted suicide for patients - adults or minors - who are suffering from serious and incurable diseases.
The second, sponsored by a vast left-wing coalition ranging from the SPD to Die Linke, via the Liberal Democrats of the FDP, goes much further: the incurable nature of the pathology is no longer required, the role of the doctor being limited to making note of the applicant's reasons before prescribing the lethal product by which he can end his life.
Two projects that go further than other European legislation currently in force on euthanasia, because now the door is open to the legal killing of patients who do not suffer from an incurable pathology.
So, in the future assistance in committing suicide could be granted to temporarily depressed patients, wishing to end their life in a moment of weakness, and to achieve it in a short time, legally. One wonders, in such cases, where in all reality is the border between murder and suicide?
Is it a coincidence? About three weeks after the opening of the debate in the Bundestag, the medical association met on May 4 for its 124th federal day.
After a bitter debate, it was decided by a majority to remove the ban on assisted suicide contained in article 16 of the code of medical ethics.
But what do the Germans think? According to an online survey conducted by YouGov at the end of last April, among 2,057 people presumed to be “representative,” nearly three quarters of those polled (72%) indicated that they supported the legalization of euthanasia: in 2019, there were “only” 67% who supported it.
German society therefore appears to be ripe for the ultimate transgression of assisted suicide which, whatever the language used, is sure to evoke the darkest hours in German history.
Will the German Church intervene with a clear and united voice in the debate? Few risks on that side, since the episcopal conference seems more than ever to have been struck by a doctrinal and moral Alzheimer's, to the point of losing all its bearings.