Can Hospitals Prohibit Euthanasia? An Analysis From a European Human Rights Perspective
Medicine and law 2011 Jun; 30(2): 295-306
At present, in four European countries euthanasia and/ or physician assisted suicide (PAS) are tolerated under strict legal conditions. However, in practice these patient groups are often deprived of the possibility to undergo such decisions. Particularly Catholic health care institutions have developed policies which restrict the internal application of the law. Yet, the legitimacy of such policies is questionable. From a European human rights perspective it can be defended that the freedom of association allows hospitals to develop policies elaborating their ethical stances on euthanasia and PAS. However, to respect the patient's right to self-determination the concerned hospitals should at least inform current and future patients about the restrictive policy and deal carefully with euthanasia and PAS requests. If a patient's wish remains seriously incompatible with the ethical stances of the hospital, at least reasonable and attainable alternatives (such as a referral to a tolerant regional hospital) should be offered.
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