27 June 2012

The right to suicide

The ECHR will consider two new cases of euthanasia

The European Court of Human Rights will consider two new cases concerning euthanasia and assisted suicide, Koch v. Germany and Alda Gross v. Sweden.

In the case of Koch v. Germany, Madame Koch, a paralyzed patient, and her husband faced the refusal of doctors to receive a deadly substance. Madame Koch and her husband filed a lawsuit over this refusal, but without waiting for any decision in Germany, they went to Sweden, where Madame Koch's assisted suicide took place. Madame Koch's husband continues the proceedings, but in the German courts he was denied consideration of the case, since he was not recognized as a plaintiff, that is, a victim of denial of euthanasia. Then Mr. Koch appealed to the ECHR, claiming that the refusal of his wife violated her right to privacy and the lack of effective remedies. The ECHR accepted Mr. Koch's complaint for consideration.

The case "Alda Gross v. Switzerland" is based on the unwillingness of the applicant (Madame Gross) to experience the natural aging process, while the applicant did not have a fatal disease. Alda Gross complains that she was unable to obtain a lethal substance without a doctor's prescription, since no doctor agreed to give her a prescription. She claims that the State is obliged to provide her with the means to commit suicide in a safe and painless form. Ms. Gross claims that this refusal is a violation of her right to life, since she gave up life, and also humiliates her dignity, since she does not see the strength to endure the aging process.

At the same time, the Bioethics Committee of the Council of Europe is preparing for consideration the revision of the "Guidelines for Decision-making concerning the treatment and care of terminally ill people." This document will consist of instructions on the provision or termination of emergency care and the transition to palliative care or palliative sedation (that is, the introduction of special sedatives).

On January 25, 2012, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted resolution (1859) "Protection of human rights and dignity, taking into account the previously expressed wishes of the patient," which states that: "Euthanasia, considered as intentional murder, through the action or inaction of an incapacitated person in his alleged interests, should be prohibited." This resolution is aimed at defining the principles applied in Europe, such as "lifetime testament" or "advance instructions". Earlier, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in recommendation 1418 (1999) "On the protection of the human rights and dignity of the terminally ill and dying," insisted on "prohibiting the deliberate deprivation of the life of a terminally ill or dying person." PACE and the member States of the Council of Europe continue to condemn euthanasia and assisted suicide, and only a few countries out of the 47 members of the Council of Europe - the Benelux countries and Sweden – practice euthanasia.

According to Gregor Pupink, director of the European Center for Law and Justice (Strasbourg), who is charged with writing legal comments on the two above-mentioned cases, the court practice of the ECHR "does not comply with the prohibitions on euthanasia and even gives "permission" allowing member states to apply this practice." According to Mr. Puppink, "some countries want to go further and impose an obligation on the ECHR for all states to recognize the "right to death" or "right to suicide." "The same goal is pursued in the Koch and Gross cases, in which the applicants seek to consolidate the fundamental right to receive public funds that ensure death in a "safe and painless way," the specialist concluded.

It is worth noting that in the 2002 Pretty v. Great Britain case, the ECHR ruled that article 2 of the Human Rights Convention, which guarantees everyone the right to life, "cannot be interpreted without linguistic distortions as granting a diametrically opposite right, namely, the right to death." Nevertheless, in January 2011, in the case of Haas v. Switzerland, the Court decided to allow evatanasia and assisted suicide.

According to Mr. Pupink, in the decision in the Haas case, the Court took liberal logic as the basis of the decision, applying Article 8 of the Convention "the right to privacy", since this article includes the right to suicide, "the right of a person to decide how and when his life should end." However, according to Mr. Puppink, this right to suicide exists in the legislation of the ECHR "only on condition that "an individual does not have the opportunity to freely formulate his will on this issue and act accordingly."

"This liberal approach needs to be changed, because there is no doubt that the authors of the Convention drawn up after the Second World War and the Nuremberg Trials, in particular, wanted to fight against such practices," Mr. Puppink said.

According to the expert, "euthanasia or assisted suicide is not a "right", and the practice of euthanasia itself should not be allowed and allowed in accordance with the Convention on Human Rights, as this in itself is a gross violation of article 2, since this article requires the State to respect and protect the lives of all people without exception, and establishes the principle – "no one can be deprived of life intentionally."

"I would like to believe that in the Koch and Gross cases, the European Court of Human Rights will correct the absurd statement about the existence of the "right to suicide", since "society is not obligated to citizens to guarantee such a right. All legal arguments in these cases are based on the assertion of "absurd law," the lawyer concluded.

The representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the Council of Europe, Hegumen Philip (Ryabykh), also commented on the situation in euthanasia cases [...]
(You can read the philippics of fr. Philip on the website "Orthodoxy.Ru" – VM.)

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru27.06.2012

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