Wednesday, January 4, 2017

European Court of Human Rights Judge: "There is no right to suicide or to assisted suicide"

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Justice De Gaetano
The Times of Malta published a New Year's interview by Matthew Xuereb, with Chief Justice emeritas Vincent De Gaetano, of the European Court of Human Rights in Malta.

Xuereb asked Justice De Gaetano a question concerning euthanasia, assisted suicide and the Vincent Lambert case. Justice De Gaetano responded by stating:

One cannot do justice in a few words to a very complex legal and moral issue. Euthanasia, however much one tries to hedge the definition, flies in the face of human dignity. 
There is no right to suicide or to assisted suicide under the convention and no positive obligation to provide such.
Vincent Lambert
The Lambert case concerned the withdrawal of fluids and food from Vincent Lambert, who was incompetent to make medical decisions and whose wishes were unknown. Justice De Gaetano responded to this issue by stating:

In Lambert, the main issue was different, namely whether, in the absence of a clear indication of the patient’s will, ordinary care by way of food and hydration could be withdrawn. It was a form of disguised euthanasia.
The legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide does not provide individual rights but it gives doctors, or others, the right in law to cause your death.

2 comments:

Helen Satmary said...

I agree that there is no right to suicide or to assisted suicide.

Nancy Schmeing said...

Thank you, Alex, for finding that relevant legal opinion.
It does happen that a person's health representative acquiesces to a doctor's "orders" to subject a patient who has had a stroke to "palliative care", by which he means do not hydrate or feed the patient who cannot swallow.
This patient was heard even to utter words while so deprived. In this case, there was not even a waiting period before the withholding began, although the results of a stroke cannot be assessed until more than a day after the event. Also there are techniques to stroke the patient's throat and stimulate the ability to swallow.
The doctor in this case did not supply the health representative with anything to make an informed decision. He essentially overwhelmed her.
The kind of information in this article should be understood by health representatives.

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