Indirect euthanasia - what is it?
What exactly is meant by passive or indirect euthanasia? In the case of indirect euthanasia, a targeted professional pain and symptom treatment, which carries a life-shortening risk, is allowed.
For example, a terminally ill patient can receive daily doses of morphine at his own request, even if this is in the living will, but this may lead to death more quickly ("palliative sedation").
What is passive euthanasia?
Passive euthanasia is the admission of death due to age or illness by refraining from life-prolonging measures. Pain relief and basic care will continue to take place. Examples of passive euthanasia include not using:
- artificial respiration
- artificial nutrition and hydration
- certain medications
- a dialysis
Is that legally allowed or not?
Indirect euthanasia is not punishable as it falls under the treatment where life shortening occurs as an unintentional side effect.
Passive euthanasia is also allowed. At the explicit and unequivocal request of the patient, physicians may and must stop a life-prolonging treatment or refrain from the beginning. This is euthanasia by dying. However, it must be clear that the patient understands and advocates the consequences of his decision.
It is important to ensure decent housing, care, personal hygiene, relieving pain, shortness of breath and nausea, and breastfeeding hunger and thirst. However, the transfer to an intensive care unit is waived, an already started therapy is stopped or a further treatment is omitted.
Active euthanasia: prohibited in Germany
Active euthanasia is punishable - even if the patient expressly wishes it. For example, if a doctor puts an end to the suffering of a patient with a lethal dose of morphine, this is active euthanasia. Active euthanasia for the purpose of painless killing of a dying person is unlawful; if it is even carried out against the will of the patient, this will be punished as murder.
If euthanasia has been provided because the patient has expressly requested it, then according to § 216 of the Penal Code this will be punished as killing on demand with imprisonment of six months to five years.
Legalize active euthanasia?
In Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands active euthanasia is already allowed by law. In Germany, too, the idea that patients should be able to decide for themselves when it is time for them to go is provoked. So far, however, ethical and legal debates have not yet led to any decision.