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For years German right-to-die leaders and activists have lived under a cloud of uncertainty whether physicians, “guides”, friends, relatives, etc who had rendered perfectly legal passive assistance at the scene , would nevertheless subsequently be subject to prosecution, if, after witnessing the patient’s suicide, they failed to immediately take emergency measures to nullify the patient’s act and initiate steps to restore his life!

A ridiculous situation of course, but nevertheless one which common wisdom, even among some prestigious lawyers, held to be the existing legal framework. Allegedly this all goes back to a well meaning statute that in the early days of the automobile was deemed appropriate for having drivers stop at the scene of an accident and render first-aid and other assistance.

A few months ago, a highly respected, medically-trained member of the German organisation DGHS, decided to take matters into her own hands, acting solely as an individual and not as a representative of the DGHS organisation, she wrote a letter to the Federal Ministry of Justice, requesting clarification of this matter.

Not long thereafter, she received a reply authorized by Madame Minister of Justice herself , which more or less states that as a rule where there exists clear evidence that the suicide was a clearly voluntary one, carried out by a mentally competent and responsible individual, attendees would not place themselves in jeopardy of prosecution if they failed to initiate reanimation efforts, as such efforts would clearly be a violation of the patient’s right of self determination.

In addition to the good news recently emanating from Switzerland as the result of some determined interventions by Dignitas Director Ludwig A. Minelli, we have also seen this significant and encouraging development in Germany.

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