Human Rights Act 1998
It is an important Act in the domain of end of life issues particularly in euthanasia, mercy killing and assisted suicide as numerous cases have argued that articles in this Act make euthanasia lawful. Here we present the selected articles, relevant cases and its interpretation by the European Court of Human Rights. The two landmark cases are Pretty v DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions and Secretary of State for the Home Department [2002] and Purdy v DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) and Secretary of State for the Home Department [2009]

Article 2 - the right to life [R(Pretty) v DPP]

Pretty argued that the right life extend to a right to control the manner of one's death and therefore a right to commit suicide. The House of Lords and European Court of Human Rights held that this article imposed a duty on the state to protect life, but not a right to die.

Article 3 - the right not to suffer torture or inhuman and degrading treatment

Pretty argued that not allowing her husband to perform assisted suicide is an inhuman treatment. The ECHR held that even if the condition that she is suffering is inhuman, it is not the result of treatment by the state or inflicted by the state.

Article 8 - the right to respect for private and family life

Interpretation of this article in R(Purdy) v DPP by the House of Lords led to the DPP to produce a list of public factors that will be taken into account in a case of assisted suicide as mentioned above.

Article 9 - The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion

Pretty argued that she was being prevented from exercising her belief that it would be best if she ends her life. However, this was rejected on the basis that there was no interference with her believes. The state can prohibit actions motivated by a person's believes.

  • A joint statement from the BMA, the Resuscitation Council (UK) and the Royal College of Nursing
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation: Standards for clinical practise and training (RCAnaesthetists, RCP, ICS, the Resuscitation Council UK)
  • Identification of potential donors of organs for transplantation: HSG (94)41 NHS Executive
  •, Human Organ Transplants Act 2004