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No right to assisted dying ruling by ECtHR
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14 Jun 2024 / human rights Print

No right to assisted dying ruling by ECtHR

There is no right to assisted dying under European human-rights law, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled by a 6-1 majority (13 June). 

The judgment states that there are potentially broad social implications and risks of error and abuse involved in the provision of physician-assisted dying.

The case concerns the right, asserted by the applicant Dániel Karsai, who is suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis caused by MND, to be assisted in dying.

Karsai, a prominent human0rights lawyer in Budapest, Hungary, unsuccessfully argued that the criminalisation of physician-assisted dying (PAD) violated his rights under articles 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

He has advocated for his right to decide when and how to die.


The court said that most Council of Europe countries continued to prohibit both medically assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Therefore, Hungary had wide discretion, and the European Court of Human Rights found that it had not failed to strike a fair balance between the competing interests at stake.

The court added that high-quality care, including the use of palliative sedation and effective pain management, was essential to ensuring a dignified end of life.

Karsai had not alleged that such care would be unavailable.

The court found that the refusal or withdrawal of treatment in end-of-life situations was intrinsically linked to the right to free and informed consent, rather than to a right to be helped to die.

This was widely recognised and endorsed by the medical profession, and also laid down in the Council of Europe’s Oviedo Convention, the court said.

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