Euro court seeks Swiss clarity on euthanasia
AFP · 14 May 2013, 20:12
Published: 14 May 2013 20:12 GMT+02:00
- Switzerland won't tighten assisted suicide rules (27 Sep 12)
- Swiss canton to vote on assisted suicide (01 Jun 12)
- 300 Swiss died by assisted suicide in 2009 (28 Mar 12)
Alda Gross, 82, had requested assisted suicide because of old age and an increasingly isolated and monotonous life. She argued she was frail and suffering a physical and mental decline, but did not suffer a serious illness.
Although assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland under certain circumstances — provided it is not carried out by selfish motives and is often used to help terminally ill patients end their lives — Gross failed to convince doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of medication out of fear they would face criminal charges.
The Strasbourg court concluded that "the absence of clear and comprehensive legal guidelines violated the applicant's right to respect for her private life".
The court said the lack of clarity must have left Gross "in a state of anguish and uncertainty regarding the extent of her right to end her life which would not have occurred if there had been clear, state-approved guidelines defining the circumstances under which medical practitioners are authorized to issue the requested prescription".
It also said the lack of clarity "is likely to have a chilling effect on doctors who would otherwise be inclined to provide someone such as the applicant with the requested medical prescription".
The court did not rule on whether assisted suicide should be authorized in the Gross case, however.
The parties have three months to appeal the ruling.