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Newsletter - March 2021
EDITORIAL
Dear reader

Assisted suicide is still prohibited by law in many countries. Free and responsible citizens continue to be patronised and prevented against their will from ending their suffering and life in a manner they personally consider dignified. Relatives and friends who respect the wish of a seriously ill person to die and who give him or her their support are still being treated as criminals.
 
Freedom of choice, self-determination and self-responsibility in life and at life’s end: This is what “DIGNITAS – To live with dignity – To die with dignity continues to work for internationally: in its political and legal work, in its daily advising of individuals seeking help and in preparing and providing assisted suicide for suffering individuals who have made a clear and well-considered choice and who are still denied this right in their home country.


Feel free to share our newsletter with other interested parties. You are also welcome to show support for our goals and international activities by joining as a member or by making a donation.


COUNTRY UPDATE
AUSTRIA
Does Austria now need a special law on assisted suicide? A short analysis of the Constitutional Court's judgment
On 11 December 2020, in a ground-breaking judgment, the Austrian Constitutional Court (VfGH) declared unconstitutional a provision that had existed since the 1930s and had presumably be included in criminal law due to the preeminent doctrines in force at the time. More
... read more
GERMANY
Contradictions in the Church's view on suicide and assisted suicide
In the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung the church representatives Reiner Anselm, Isolde Karle, and Ulrich Lilie recently seemed to speak out in favour of opening church-owned institutions to assisted suicide. That would have been gratifying, had they not ended up contradicting themselves: Calling 
... read more
FRANCE
Tactical pre-election manoeuvring and a significant criminal case
In France, freedom of choice regarding one’s own end in life remains denied to citizens despite numerous law proposals. Political decision-makers shy away from dealing with assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia, even though surveys show that over 90 per cent of the population and over 70 per cent  of
... read more
INSIDE DIGNITAS
The association’s international legal work bears fruit;
Suicide attempt prevention remains at the core of the advisory work


In 2020, the long-standing international legal commitment of the non-profit membership association “DIGNITAS – To live with dignity – To die with dignity” led to encouraging court decisions in Germany and Austria in favour of the human right to decide on the manner and time of one’s own end in life and to seek help of third parties for this. In the operational area, the comprehensive advisory work for individuals seeking help and suicide attempt prevention remained at the core of DIGNITAS' activities. In 2021, the association will continue to engage in work to ensure quality of life until the end, self-determination and real freedom of choice, combined with individual responsibility and advance planning – in Switzerland and internationally.

For more details, see our media release of 8 March 2021.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...
... in many countries, assisted dying laws are discriminatory?

Voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide are – except for assisted suicide in Switzerland – regulated by special laws in countries where they are permitted. This may be understandable in view of the respective legal traditions. However, when it comes to guaranteeing a freedom, such as the freedom to make one's own decisions about the end of one's life, this is always associated with the risk of regulating what does not need to be regulated and of thus creating unjustifiable discrimination; freedoms that everyone is entitled to end up being withheld instead of being protected. Once a law has gone through the often time-consuming and lengthy process of reaching a political consensus, such discrimination can only be reversed in equally lengthy law revision procedures or, if necessary, by challenging the law in court.

An example of this is the provision that voluntary euthanasia and/or assisted suicide may only be legally possible if doctors certify that the person concerned has a maximum life expectancy of, for example, six months. This is problematic in a two-fold way, because firstly, no one, not even a doctor, can precisely predict when a person’s life will end. More gravely however, right from the outset, such a regulation deprives many seriously suffering individuals of the freedom to end their suffering and lives legally and safely at the time when they wish to do so.

In Canada, for example, after the introduction of a Medical Aid In Dying (MAID) law, the restriction of eligibility to individuals whose death is "reasonably foreseeable" was successfully challenged in a court case. The Supreme Court ordered the government to revise the law accordingly; in the course of the subsequent law revision, further amendments were introduced, and Canada is now on the way to a more liberal Medical Aid In Dying (MAID) regime.
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