Ban on assisted suicide not against European Convention on Human Rights, court rules
Those in the Netherlands in life threatening danger should immediately dial 112 for emergencies, and anyone suffering from depression or contemplating suicide can call 113 Zelfmoordpreventie at any time by dialing either 113 or 0800-0113, or by visiting 113.nl.
Cooperatie Laatste Wil (CLW) achieved nothing with its case filed against the criminal enforcement of the ban on assisted suicide. The court in The Hague ruled that the State “has not acted, is acting, or will not act unlawfully towards CLW and its supporters by fully enforcing the ban on assisted suicide.”
CLW argued that the ban is not in line with the European Convention on Human Rights. It states, among other things, that “everyone has the right to respect for their private life” and that “no interference by any public authority shall be permitted in the exercise of this right, except as provided by law and necessary in a democratic society.”
In court, CLW argued that people, in general, can judge the meaning and quality of their lives and should be able to choose conscious, voluntary termination of their life. Now they depend on the judgment of doctors and the euthanasia law, while there is “a not inconsiderable group” who desire to make this decision for themselves, and “that should not be ignored.”
The State disagreed. It referred to a study showing that only 0.18 percent of people over 55 want to end their lives and their reasons are “complex and changeable.” People also need to be protected from themselves, the State argued.
In the Netherlands, assisting in suicide is punishable by law. Only a doctor may provide assisted suicide to someone who is suffering unbearably and hopelessly due to medical causes. Providing assisted suicide to someone who considers their life "completed" is not allowed.
According to the European Court of Human Rights, the right to self-determination does not go so far as there is also a right to assisted suicide, the court explained. Nor is there an obligation to make a "dignified" suicide possible. Interference by the government is permitted, the court says, if it serves a legitimate purpose and is necessary in a democratic society.
In addition, according to the court, states have "a wide margin of appreciation, certainly with regard to sensitive subjects such as these, on which there is no international agreement." The State must protect the right to life. "This means that the State must prevent vulnerable persons from ending their lives on a whim," the court said.
With the existing regulations on euthanasia, the State has "made a good assessment between the various interests," the court said in its ruling.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times