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Assisted dying in Europe

A comparative law and governance analysis of four national and two supranational systems
PhD ceremony:Mr A. McCann
When:June 02, 2016
Supervisors:prof. dr. A.L.B. (Aurelia) Colombi Ciacchi, prof. dr. L.W. (Laurence) Gormley, MA MSc
Where:Academy building RUG
Assisted dying in Europe

Tragic individual cases of human suffering are the key drivers of public and political debate on the legality of assisted dying. Moreover, in certain Western liberal democracies there appears an increasing amount of public but not political or judicial support for legal policy change in favour of this behaviour. This study submits that the controversies surrounding individual cases of assisted dying are unlikely to subside whilst the policy stalemate is likely to remain. It is also suggested here that the ‘first-principle’ nature of assisted dying adversely effects legal policy implementation and evaluation.

By way of a comparative law and governance analysis involving four national systems (England, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands) and two supra-national systems (the European Union and the Council of Europe), it is argued that meaningful public-private actor inter-dependency in the creation, application and evaluation of the law on assisted dying can serve to mitigate the inadequacies of central political institutions and actors. This essentially demands that we think beyond the traditional law and governance mechanisms regarding this sensitive issue.