Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and assisted dying
Richard Griffith, Senior Lecturer in Health Law at Swansea University, continues his series on the articles of the European Convention on Human Rights and considers Article 8 in the context of assisted dying
News of the death of Noel Conway earlier this year has again led to calls for a change in the law to allow people the ultimate expression of autonomy by allowing them to choose when to die and to be given lawful assistance to do so (BBC News, 2021).
Noel Conway, who had motor neurone disease, was a campaigner for a change in the law and took his case to court, arguing that the law forbidding assisted dying violated his rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (Council of Europe, 1950).
Article 8 of the ECHR is an example of a qualified human right. It begins by asserting in Article 8(1) that:
‘Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.’
It then adds considerable qualification to that right under Article 8(2) that gives considerable scope for derogation:
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