A Conscience-Based Human Right to be ‘Doctor Death’

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Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

It is argued that a limited number of doctors may rely on article 9 ECHR to claim that they have a conscience-based right to assist the suicide of their legally competent adult patients who, for reasons of disability, are unable without assistance to put into action a voluntary, clear, settled and informed decision to kill themselves. In Carter v Canada, the Canadian Supreme Court rejected the proposition that an absolute ban on assisted dying was necessary to protect vulnerable individuals from the risks of requesting assisted dying for undue reasons. In Nicklinson, the UK Supreme Court did not substantively address that question and it is possible that it may soon have to address that question again. It is argued that in future litigation the UK Supreme Court should accept that an absolute ban disproportionately interferes with a doctor’s conscience-based right to provide assistance in suicide. The argument relies on Carter and on the fact that a permissive legal regime is already in existence in the UK under administrative law principles.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-630
JournalPublic Law
Volume4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016