Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Monday 27 September |
Saint of the Day: St. Vincent de Paul
home iconNews
line break icon

Several assisted suicide battles brewing around the world


Shutterstock | Yavdat

John Burger - published on 01/13/21 - updated on 09/06/21

German bishops' conference spokesman said people need help in living, not dying.

It’s not help in dying that is needed by people undergoing pain and suffering but “support to develop prospects of life,” said a spokesman for the Catholic bishops of Germany.

The spokesman, Matthias Kopp, was responding to a newspaper article in support of physician assisted suicide in Germany, where there has been a legal challenge to the country’s constitutional ban on the practice.

Around the world, physician assisted suicide is legal in a handful of nations — Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands — and in parts of the United States. 

Last year saw a few countries make moves to add to that list. Portuguese lawmakers voted in February to permit euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill adults older than 18. In October, the Dutch government announced plans to allow doctors to end the lives of terminally ill children who are under 13 years old. 

New Zealand voters in November approved the End of Life Choice Act. When it takes effect this year, it will allow terminally ill people with less than six months to live the opportunity to choose assisted dying if approved by two doctors.

And in December, lawmakers in Spain voted in favor of a law decriminalizing euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

In Australia, there is a movement to overturn a 1997 law that overrode the right of the country’s Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory to legalize assisted suicide, according to the Australia ABC.

‘Very concerned’

In the U.S., several states might take up measures this year leading to legalization of assisted suicide. 

“We predict that assisted suicide bills will be introduced in at least 20 states and some states that legalized assisted suicide will debate bills to expand their assisted suicide laws, in 2021,” wrote Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Canada-based Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. “In 2020, many states debated assisted suicide bills but most of those bills died on the order paper. Some of the assisted suicide bills died on the order paper because the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily shut down state legislatures.”

Schadenberg said he is “very concerned about possible assisted suicide bills in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico and New York, among others.”

Recently, the Maryland Catholic Conference said it expects a fight this year over legalizing assisted suicide in the state. “We expect it to come back. The proponents of that legislation have made it their mission to try and get it passed in Maryland,” Jenny Kraska, the conference’s executive director, told the Catholic Review.

A bill has been introduced to expand Washington state’s assisted suicide law.

“From a Christian point of view, people’s freedom to decide for themselves at every stage of their life according to their personal ideas is very important,” the German bishops’s spokesman Kopp said in a statement. “However, this does not make suicide an ethically acceptable option.” 

Kopp cited research showing that the desire to end one’s life is, in most cases, the result of fear and despair resulting from extreme situations, and therefore “cannot be understood as the expression of self-determination.” For this reason, he said, “the desire to commit suicide cannot be accepted without asking questions, nor considered as a normal form of death.”

Rather, it is in these “highly dramatic situations of life” that “respect of self-determination requires a special observation and an empathic attention.”

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
J-P Mauro
Chicago architect models Vatican City from 67,000 LEGO bricks
The Sinai Peninsula and the Dead Sea Rift
J-P Mauro
Experts now believe Sodom was destroyed by a meteor
Philip Kosloski
Why J.R.R. Tolkien loved to attend daily Mass
Bret Thoman, OFS
Exclusive photos: Meet Padre Pio and the place he lived
Giovanna Binci
He’s autistic, she has Down syndrome, and they’re wonderfully hap...
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady saved Padre Pio from a violent demonic attack
Cerith Gardiner
9 Padre Pio quotes for when you’re feeling scared or uncertain
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.