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Issue 192: : Ärztlich assistierter Suizid. Das Grundrecht von Patienten auf Selbstbestimmung und die Sicht von Religionen und Kirchen - ein unaufhebbarer Gegensatz?April 2012

It is a disputed subject in both ethics and law, whether a physician may assist a seriously ill patient in committing suicide. This paper presents a comparative view (Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity) on attitudes towards suicide. Churches and religions usually reject suicide, including physician assisted suicide. However, current statements by some Protestant Churches show that the opinion-making process concerning this subject has been set in motion again. Suicide has been repeatedly condemned on religious grounds (e.g. as rebellion against God). However, Christianity has also been known to excuse suicides and in certain cases it has even considered them permissible (i.e. sacrificial suicide).
Regarding the current debate the following should be emphasised: When humans consider suicide in the face of suffering and illness they are exercising their right to self-determination. They want to retain their self-respect. These aspects ought to be accorded great importance on a constitutional and ethical but also on a theological level. As regards medical ethics, it is essential to develop criteria by which physicians can orientate themselves if, in exceptional or borderline cases, they consider their participation in assisted suicide.