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Court Holds Restrictive Swiss Aid-in-Dying Law Violates Human Rights

Posted May 14 2013 9:04pm
When it rains it pours.  In addition to the news out of Vermont, today the European Court of Human Rights issued its opinion in the case of Gross v. Switzerland .  

Alda Gross has no known pathological condition or clinical illness.  But she contends that she has the right to assisted suicide because she’s a frail elderly woman and has no desire to continue life.  Swiss authorities refused to provide Gross with a lethal dose of a drug in order to commit suicide.   

After exhausting her remedies in the Swiss courts, in November 2010, Gross alleged a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.  

The Court held that Swiss law was in violation of the Convention, because it is not clear enough as to when assisted suicide was permitted.  Swiss law lacks sufficient guidelines ensuring clarity as to the extent of the right to aid-in-dying.  This lack of clarity is likely to have a chilling effect on doctors who would otherwise be inclined to provide someone such as Gross with the requested medical prescription.

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