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Arnold, Uwe-Christian

Uwe-Christian Arnold, medical doctor, deceased 2019


Photo: Evelin Frerk

Uwe-Christian Arnold was born in Berlin in 1944. After graduating from high school he studied medicine in Berlin and received his license to practice in 1973. He then specialized in urology and worked in his own practice from 1980 to 2000. In addition he qualified as a sports physician, diving physician, and occupational physician and in this function also supervised companies. He first dealt with the subject of "humane euthanasia" in the mid-1990s. Based on the idea that the patient should be the focus of treatment and not the disease, Uwe-Christian Arnold has advocated the right to medically assisted suicide for the past 15 years and helps terminally ill people die.

No other German physician has in the last few years openly admitted to his work as a suicide assistant, which resulted in numerous media reports. In November 2012 ARD broadcast a sensational documentary ("Sie bringen den Tod - Sterbehelfer in Deutschland", translated: "They bring death - Suicide assistants in Germany") about his life and work. In the subsequent programme "hart, aber fair", he was able to present the task of medical assistance to the dying in such a convincing way that he has received numerous enquiries since then.

The legal proceedings initiated in 2007 between Christian Arnold and the Berlin Medical Association, which had forbidden him to give a patient lethal substances for her intended suicide, were a particular cause of debate. Arnold won the lawsuit in April 2012. The Berlin Administrative Court found that a general ban on medical suicide assistance violates the fundamental rights of freedom of conscience and freedom to practice one's profession.

Representatives of conservative parties, the Medical Association, and the Churches reacted to the Berlin ruling with indignation. However, Arnold's position received great approval from the population. In an online survey conducted by "Berliner Kurier" in 2011 to report on the alleged "Dr. Suicide", 92 percent (!) of readers voted in favour of legalizing euthanasia in Germany.

In addition to his commitment to the right to assisted suicide, Uwe-Christian Arnold is also active in the Humanistischer Pressedienst (hpd - Humanistic Press Service), the most important news portal of the secular community, and is a member of the hpd association. The fact that the German Bundestag, contrary to the clear public opinion, passed the "Law on the Criminality of Commercial Promotion of Suicide" at the end of 2015, which prohibits any form of professional suicide assistance and catastrophically abandons severely suffering people, hit him hard. Christian therefore waited with great impatience for the opening of the proceedings on the constitutional complaints against the "Euthanasia Prevention Act" §217 of the German Criminal Code (StGB). He was to present a statement to the Federal Constitutional Court during the oral hearing on the April 16./17., 2019. However, the cancer from which he had been suffering for a long time, did not allow it. On April 12, Uwe-Christian Arnold self-determinedly departed from life. On the evening before his death he issued a statement for the Federal Constitutional Court, his political testament. In this regard please also read the obituary to Uwe-Christian Arnold, written by his friend and co-author Michael Schmidt-Salomon.

Book publication:

  • Letzte Hilfe. Ein Plädoyer für das selbstbestimmte Sterben (with Michael Schmidt-Salomon), Rowohlt Verlag, 2014