Euthanasie in Geschichte Und Gegenwart -- Im Spektrum Zwischen Lebensbeendigung Und Sterbebeistand
von Engelhardt, Dietrich
Acta historica Leopoldina 2010(55): 187-212
Euthanasia signifies in antiquity an easy and happy death and not at all an active termination of life, which was forbidden in the Hippocratic oath, but justified by philosophers. In the Christian middle ages active euthanasia and abortion are explicitly refused. At the beginnings of modern times MORE (1516) and BACON (1623) plead for euthanasia and differentiate for the first time between "euthanasia interior" as a mental preparation and "euthanasia exterior" as a physical and direct termination of life. Around 1900 a change takes place--in medicine as well as in the humanities and arts. The lawyer Karl BINDING and the psychiatrist Alfred HOCHE (1920) support active euthanasia in the case of mental deficiency; similar views are taken by the population. Under the "Third Reich" euthanasia unlawfully is carried out as termination of life without or even against consent. Today oaths, declarations and laws are intended to prevent such a "medicine without humanity" (MITSCHERLICH and MIELKE 1947). Active voluntary euthanasia is under certain conditions allowed by the legislation in some countries (Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg). Essential seem the consideration of different types of euthanasia and above all a psychical-mental assistance in the process of dying. The height of culture is measured by dealing with death and dying.