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Facts and Findings

Human Dignity - New Challenges

by Klaus Mertes SJ

Socio-political issues in the context of human dignity

The core issues of many political projects currently under discussion concern the inviolable dignity of the human person. This applies both to the recently enacted Self-Determination Act and to the government coalition's plan to regulate abortion outside the Criminal Code in the future. But in 2020, the Federal Constitutional Court also established the need for a new regulation of assisted suicide that is compatible with human dignity. How can human dignity be adequately taken into account in these borderline issues?

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Human dignity is the equal right of every individual, regardless of gender, origin, faith or other criteria of distinction. It is inviolable and must be recognized without fail. This principle is also enshrined in Article 1 of the German Basic Law and forms the supporting constitutional principle in the system of fundamental rights.

It is a particular challenge to take this guarantee into account in legislation. The question of the concrete form that human dignity should take is raised above all with regard to sociopolitical issues that are currently the subject of controversial political debate. This applies in particular to the right to take one's own life, which the Federal Constitutional Court accorded fundamental legal quality in its 2020 judgment, and to the right to self-determination, which is to be taken into account by the recently enacted Self-Determination Act. But the tension between the right to reproductive self-determination on the one hand and the protection of unborn life on the other is also closely linked to human dignity and its interpretation. It must not be violated under any circumstances in a reform of the existing regulations.

In addition to the historical and philosophical foundations of human dignity, this Analyses & Arguments also addresses its meaning and sheds light on the boundary issues in the context of current political discourses.

Read the entire Analyses & Arguments: "Human Dignity - New Challenges" from here as a PDF.

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