States of uncertainty: plural laws and affective governance in the context of assisted suicide in Germany
In December 2015, Germany implemented its first official law regulating organized assistance to suicide. Prior to the implementation of the §217 of the criminal code, assisted suicide was already regulated by 18 different sets of mutually contradictory medical norms, but despite their coexistence within the federal jurisdiction, these norms did not overlap at state level and were binding only to registered members of each medical association. After the implementation of the §217 StGB, however, the new legal pluralism on assisted suicide turned into one of overlaps, where medical norms and official law were oftentimes on opposing sides. This new plural legal landscape became a source of doubts and suspicions for those involved with assisted suicide on the ground level, shrouding assisted suicide with an affective perception of illegality and making the state be perceived through a general sense of mistrust and uncertainty. In this sense, this article first presents the production of a new legal pluralism on assisted suicide following the implementation of the §217 StGB to, subsequently, discuss how this legal landscape obscured the question of legality by enhancing uncertainties on the ground level and constituting an affective mode of governance.