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

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Justice De Gaetano

Justice De Gaetano

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

Xuereb asked Justice De Gaetano about euthanasia, assisted suicide, and Vincent Lambert, who was severely brain-injured in an accident in 2008.

Justice De Gaetano responded

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 with his mother.

Vincent Lambert with his mother.

The Lambert case concerned the withdrawal of fluids and food from Mr. Lambert, who was incompetent to make medical decisions and whose wishes were unknown. Justice De Gaetano observed

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in the absence of a clear indication of the patient’s will, ordinary care by way of food and hydration could be withdrawn.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.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.