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The Joint Committee of Human Rights’ response to the Patient (Assisted Dying) Bill

Thursday, August 20, 1970

The Joint Committee on Human Rights is appointed by the House of Lords and the House of Commons to consider matters relating to human rights in the United Kingdom. All of its members are former lawyers or academics.

On the 17th March the Joint Committee of Human Rights examined the Patient (Assisted Dying) Bill with regards to the right not to be intentionally deprived of life (ECHR Article 2) and the right to respect for private life (ECHR Article 8). They found that a Bill to permit the intentional taking of life at the request of someone who wants to die would not be unavoidably incompatible with the right not to be intentionally deprived of life under ECHR Article 2, having regard to the case-law of the courts in the United Kingdom and Strasbourg. The decisions of the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights in Diane Pretty’s case do not establish that the State has a positive obligation to protect people against being helped to die at their own request. Therefore, the State would not necessarily be acting unlawfully by permitting people to help others end their lives.

It was the Committee’s opinion that the safeguards contained in the Patient (Assisted Dying) Bill would be adequate to protect the interests and rights of vulnerable patients. They would ensure that nobody could lawfully be subjected to assisted dying without his or her fully informed consent, and respect the right to personal autonomy and self-determination of mentally competent patients under ECHR Article 8.1.

N.B. The Joint Committee’s findings make good campaign material for every European society.

To read in full the Joint Committee of Human Rights’ view of the Bill go here .

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