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In an 18 June 2007 interview with the German newspaper “TAZ”, Dr Uwe-Christian Arnold, a German urologist has openly come out and declared that he not only supports the concept of PAS (physician-assisted suicide) but that he has indeed practiced it, and intends to continue doing so in cases where certain eligibility criteria have been met.

Dr. Arnold, who also serves as the Deputy Director of “Dignitate-Deutschland”-an associate organization of the Swiss “Dignitas” Zurich, contends that within the existing German legal framework, the chronical and terminal ill can be helped in Germany without having to subject themselves to the frequently agonizing travel to Switzerland.

Also, according to Dr. Arnold, quite a number of German doctors are already performing PAS only they don’t want to talk about it openly. “ I am sick and tired of this hypocrisy “ he is quoted as saying to the TAZ reporter, and went on to say: My goal is to have PAS publicly acknowledged and made acceptable in Germany. I would like to see medical professionals develop a specialty in this field to help patients at the end of their days, just as we have obstetricians who render medical assistance at the very beginning.

Patient eligibility requirements would more or less follow those applied in Oregon, USA, and in Switzerland. “Active” assistance, where the final action that leads to death is in the hands, not of the patient him/herself, but is performed by another person, will not be offered.

Decisions to offer help in each case will be subject to review by at least two physicians. A maximum of personal contact with the individual concerned would be sought as well the assessment of social, economic and spiritual aspects would play an important role. Any indications of the presence of psychiatric or psychological difficulties would be referred to the appropriate specialists, and the case withdrawn from further consideration for possible inclusion in the PAS program.

As was to be expected , Dr. Arnold’s statement has received a mixed reaction, ranging from an earlier reported outburst by a Catholic Bishop during a talk show, wishing Dr. Arnold an early death, to the relatively mild comment of the President of the German Medical Association that the ethics surrounding such an activity were problematical, and that he saw little need for this type of undertaking which also might instill in the elderly and infirm a feeling that they should move in this direction to lift the burden of their care off the shoulders of their families.

The German Justice Ministry issued only a brief comment saying: “We see no reason to become active in this matter.”

In a 2005 poll taken by the German magazine “Stern”, 74 % of those polled were in favor of PAS, and 20% opposed. Thus it would seem as if Dr. Arnold who considers himself a pioneering advocate in this matter, will continue to speak out loud and clear and can most likely count on himself and his organization receiving grateful support and acclaim from a majority of the general public.

Dr Arnold’s email is as follows: christianarnold@tiscali.de

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