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Christian group worried about slippery slope as Germany legalises assisted suicide

by Tola Mbakwe

Christian campaigners against assisted suicide have been dealt a big blow. 

On Wednesday a top court in Germany overturned the country's assisted suicide ban after reviewing the German criminal code.

Christian legal advocacy organisation ADF International said it's a "worrying decision".

"A fair and just society cares for its most vulnerable. Once we open the door to intentional killing, there is no logical stopping point", said Felix Böllmann, a German lawyer and legal counsel for ADF International.

"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."

The new decision by the German Constitutional Court scrapped a 2015 law that banned professional assisted suicide. 

The judgement states that people have "'the right to a self-determined death", and assisted suicide services should not only be limited to people who are seriously ill. The new law also gives people the right to assisted suicide in "all stages of a person's existence". 

In a joint statement, the German Bishops' Conference and the Evangelical Church of Germany said they're concerned elderly or sick people would feel "internal or external pressure" to die by assisted suicide.
The Federal Constitutional Court acknowledged the risks of abuse but ruled that an individual has a right to make a choice, which takes precedence.

"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," Böllmann said. 

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.

One case the group is working on is Mortier v. Belgium. 

Tom Mortier's mother was euthanized in 2012 in Belgium, where euthanasia is legal. ADF said without any prior consultation, Mortier only found out one day later with the explanation that she had been suffering with "untreatable depression". 

ADF said in a statement: "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. 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," said Robert Clarke, Deputy Director of ADF International, who represents Tom Mortier before the Court.
"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."

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