Austria Court Voids Rule Outlawing All Assistance to Suicide

Cannon at the Hohensalzburg Fortress, Salzburg, Austria (Courthouse News photo / Chris Marshall)

BERLIN (AP) — An Austrian federal court on Friday overturned a provision in criminal law that outlaws all forms of assistance to those who kill themselves, ruling that such a sweeping ban is unconstitutional.

The country’s criminal code states that anyone who “induces another person to kill himself or gives him help to do so” incurs a prison term of between six months and five years.

The Constitutional Court considered a series of complaints, including from two seriously ill people. It ruled that the words “or gives him help to do so” are unconstitutional and will be removed from the code at the end of 2021.

The court said that the clause “violates the right of self-determination because (it) bans every kind of assistance under all circumstances.”

It upheld the rest of the provision and also upheld a provision that sets out the same punishment for anyone who “kills another person at his serious and emphatic request.”

Legislators will have to take measure to prevent abuse and ensure that “the person affected does not take the decision to kill themselves under the influence of third parties,” the court said.

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