Since the ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court on the liberalization of euthanasia, patients have been trying harder to obtain official approval for fatal substances.
This emerges from the response of the federal government to a parliamentary request from the FDP parliamentary group, which is available to the Tagesspiegel.
Accordingly, since the Karlsruhe ruling at the end of February alone, more than 50 people willing to die have reported to the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) in Bonn.
On instructions from Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU), a declared opponent of euthanasia, all applications are rejected.
FDP politician Katrin Helling-Plahr: Spahn has to “show his colors”
However, Spahn’s stance could soon come under pressure: As the Cologne administrative court confirmed on request, two applicants initiated urgent judicial proceedings against the rejection for the first time in June.
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A first decision on this could be made in the next few weeks. The minister will “have to show his colors in the short term,” expects FDP MP Katrin Helling-Plahr.
If the pending lawsuits are resolved, Spahn could “no longer hide behind the claim that he wanted to wait for ongoing proceedings”.
The government is still waiting for the Bundestag
With its judgment, the Federal Constitutional Court reaffirmed the fundamental right to a self-determined death and declared the controversial criminal law clause 217 null and void, which in particular forbade private euthanasia associations to carry out their “business-like” activities.
In addition, the judges suggested that the facilitation of euthanasia should be comprehensively regulated by law or through medical regulations. The government is waiting for initiatives from the Bundestag that have so far only been very rare.
Independently of this, however, the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig had already emphasized the basic right to self-determined death three years earlier and instructed the BfArM to allow terminally ill patients in exceptional situations to purchase the agent sodium pentobarbital for the purpose of suicide.
According to the latest information from the government, 190 applications have been made since then, of which 119 have so far been rejected. The drug was not approved in any single case.
Approval of the medication is not mandatory
With the final conclusion of an urgent procedure, this could change in the near future. Such procedures are given preferential treatment and only run through two instances. Often they only last a few months.
So far there have only been complaints from patients in so-called main proceedings that take years. However, a release of the medication as a result is not mandatory.
The judiciary in North Rhine-Westphalia could also refer to the resumption of euthanasia by private associations such as “Dignitas” and therefore reject the state dispensing of the drugs via the BfArM.
One of the patients is “more about the principle”
Nevertheless, the Dresden lawyer Matthias Herberg, who represents the patients in the two urgent proceedings, sees the BfArM as responsible. They refused help from the associations, saying that “they have the right not to put themselves in professional hands with their wish to die”.
As an alternative to a human suicide, there would then remain an agent such as sodium pentobarbital, which may only be acquired with the permission of the BfArM. One of the urgent complaints had a serious genetic disease with loss of brain function.
He saw from the fate of his mother that he wanted to save himself from progressing too far. The second patient, on the other hand, has no life-threatening illnesses. He is “more about the principle,” says lawyer Herberg.
“Aid to suicide needs humanity instead of bureaucracy”
Spahn’s handling of the 2017 court ruling is controversial. The minister is accused of having placed his ethical-political maxims over a decision of the highest court.
Even now the government does not seem to be in a hurry with an announced positioning. It is said that opinions from legal and health experts will continue to be evaluated. “As parliamentarians, we should no longer leave those affected alone and swiftly introduce a liberal euthanasia law that clearly defines who is allowed to perform euthanasia under what conditions and under what conditions drugs are available for suicide,” says FDP politician Helling -Plahr.
In their opinion, the BfArM should only play a limited role in this. The prescription of medication for suicide should be embedded in a trusting doctor-patient relationship and not left to officials. “Aid to suicide needs humanity instead of bureaucracy.”