Ecumenical News International

EKD Council Chairman: Euthanasia must not become a business

August 29, 2012

Dusseldorf (epd). The highest representative of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Council Chairman Nikolaus Schneider has called for a ban on commercial euthanasia with the words: "Bringing about people's deaths must not become a business." Schneider lent his support to such a law proposed by the German Federal Ministry of Justice, to be discussed by the government in Berlin on Wednesday afternoon. As Schneider, however, told the Protestant news service epd, criminal law has its limits when it comes to resolving ethical disagreements: "One cannot regulate everything by law", said Schneider, who is also the praeses of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland.

In this context, Schneider spoke of his skepticism with regard to the plans of the Minister of Justice, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (Free Democratic Party, FDP), who proposed not punishing doctors who provide suicide assistance if they have a close friendship with a terminally ill person. Schneider asked: "How can you define when there is a close relationship between a doctor and a dying patient?"

The prime principle of the physicians' code is to save and preserve lives. Schneider expressed his trust that "physicians, nurses, and family members decide and act in the ethical responsibility entailed in this principle." He added that dying could also be a torturous process and that for him the "quality of life" was more important than its "quantity". He said that it was "perfectly acceptable" to reduce suffering in the process of dying as is the aim of palliative medicine.

29 August 2012



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