The right to euthanasia: the analysis of the United Kingdom and the United States jurisprudence

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Author: Alexandra Lushnikova

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2017-2-106-120

Keywords: euthanasia; right to dignity; right to life; right to privacy; the UK; the USA


In the present article the author analyzes the jurisprudence of the United Kingdom and the United States of America in order to identify the approaches to the “euthanasia” definition and the criteria underlying the decision of the admissibility or, opposite, of the inadmissibility of euthanasia in different cases. In contrast to the countries which expand the list of subjects who can apply the euthanasia procedure and the countries which support the total ban on euthanasia, the jurisprudence of the UK and the USA shows the third – more flexible – way to deal with controversial issues which inevitable arise in practice of euthanasia administration. The author proposes to distinguish several types of euthanasia, depending on the physical/mental condition of a patient to whom the euthanasia procedure would be applied, as well as methods of its implementation. Thus, this article describes cases of disconnection of a patient from the life sustaining system (both when a patient is able to express his/her will and when he/she is unable) and cases of providing assisted suicide (by doctors or by relatives). The “patient’s best interests” concept is challenged because of its strong connection exclusively with the government’s obligation to preserve human’s life in every situation. The conclusion is about the possibility to consider the euthanasia procedure not only in the context of the right to life, but also of the right to privacy, or in the context of the right to dignity. Theoretically, nevertheless, the last perspective (when we look at euthanasia through the right to dignity) allows to count the right to euthanasia among other true human rights.

About the author: Alexandra Lushnikova –  Postgraduate student, School of Public Administration, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Lushnikova A. (2017) Pravo na evtanaziyu: analiz sudebnoy praktiki Velikobritanii i SShA [The right to euthanasia: the analysis of the United Kingdom and the United States jurisprudence].Sravnitel’noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, no.2, pp.106–120. (In Russian).


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