Many states are grappling with the regulation of assistance in suicide and ending the life of another upon their request. Initially punishable in most countries, a growing number of jurisdictions have now introduced permissive frameworks decriminalising, to varying degrees, rendering assistance in dying. Other countries, however, have proceeded with the criminal prohibition and several courts have upheld the lawfulness of the respective criminal laws during human rights and constitutional challenges. Yet, the Supreme Court of Canada in 2015, the German Federal Constitutional Court in February 2020 and the Austrian Constitutional Court in December 2020 have respectively declared unconstitutional and void national criminal laws prohibiting rendering assistance in dying. This article first outlines the criminal law framework relating to assisted dying in Canada, Germany and Austria. It subsequently analyses the judgments before pondering their impact on the legal landscape in the three countries. The article concludes that while the Canadian Supreme Court decision appears to have had a significant impact on the introduction of subsequent legislation in Canada, the effects of the Constitutional Courts’ judgments seem much more subdued in Germany and are yet to unfold in Austria.
© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston