The release of a video in Germany showing a former politician helping an elderly woman to commit suicide has caused outrage.
Doctor Roger Kusch – a former state justice minister – advised the healthy 79-year-old on a deadly cocktail of drugs. She was not terminally ill but did not want to move into an old people’s home.
The upper house of parliament has approved a resolution which calls for organised or commercial assistance for those who want to commit suicide to be made illegal. Thirteen of the 16 regional states gave it the green light. Suicide is legal in Germany but euthanasia or mercy killing is against the law.
Jorge Dietrich Hoppe said the death of Bettina Schardt sets a dangerous example: “It would be step towards ‘cleaning out’ if you like residents of care homes who have dementia or in the eyes of the healthy are not leading a life worth living.”
Euthanasia is particularly sensitive in Germany because of the Nazis, who killed more than 100,000 mentally ill and disabled people during World War Two. Some liberal politicians have cautioned against amending suicide laws too quickly. And those who work with the elderly say they are often confronted by people who say they no longer want to live.