Germany chancellor Angela Merkel

A poll carried out by the ‘YouGov research institute’ and published in Berlin on Friday revealed that Two thirds of Germans would back legalisation of active voluntary euthanasia, otherwise called assisted dying, while fewer than one in five are opposed to it.

Under current German law, active voluntary euthanasia is banned. Killing another person on their request is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Passive euthanasia, however, for example turning off equipment that keeps a patient alive or indirect assisted dying, where strong medication relieves pain and accelerates death, is permitted.

The poll of 2,085 respondents conducted in April found that 67 per cent were in favour of changing the law to allow active euthanasia. Just 17 per cent were against legalisation.

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The survey found 75 per cent in favour of passive euthanasia, with respondents aged 55 or older particularly strongly in favour at 82 per cent.

In Germany, assisted suicide, that is making drugs available to the patient that will cause death, is not subject to prosecution. According to the survey, 69 per cent back this.

The dpa reported that on Wednesday, the German Federal Court of Justice upheld decisions from regional courts in Berlin and Hamburg regarding two doctors who did not take measures to save the lives of patients against their will.

The court ruled that the will of the patients was the deciding factor, backing the lower courts’ ruling that the doctors should not face legal action.

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The doctors had cared for patients who had taken medication to end their lives.