German doctors remove ban on assisting suicide from code of conduct

German doctors remove ban on assisting suicide from code of conduct

A person is pictured in an illustration displaying pills in Osnabrück, Germany. German doctors have removed the ban on assisting suicide from the code of conduct. (Credit: CNS illustration/Julia Steinbrecht, KNA.)

The German Medical Assembly, the annual meeting of the German Medical Association, has lifted the professional ban on assisted suicide.

BERLIN — The German Medical Assembly, the annual meeting of the German Medical Association, has lifted the professional ban on assisted suicide.

The German Catholic news agency KNA reported that the clause “The doctor may not provide assistance in suicide” will be deleted from the professional code of conduct in response to last year’s ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court that overturned a ban on professionally assisted suicide.

In the resolution, which was adopted by a large majority, the assembly also emphasized that the task of doctors, according to the professional code of conduct, was “to preserve life, to protect and restore health, to alleviate suffering, to assist the dying and to contribute to the preservation of the natural foundations of life in view of their importance for human health.” According to the delegates, this wording makes clear that assisted suicide does not belong to the spectrum of tasks of the medical profession.

The Catholic bishops in Germany have repeatedly reiterated their rejection of any form of assisted suicide.

“We cannot accept that this becomes an offer in our society,” said Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops’ conference. Assisted suicide was not an option that could be approved, he said. “We are convinced that this results both from the Christian faith and from generally accessible ethics.”

Like the medical profession in Germany, the bishops are in favor of expanding pain treatment and hospice care, KNA reported.

Earlier, the delegates had called for lessons to be learned from the handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Crisis management and response urgently needed to be improved, the doctors said. In addition, reserves of important medical products, medicines and vaccines should be created, and the European production sites for these should be expanded.

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