University of Leicester
2018PapadopoulouNPPhD.pdf (1.98 MB)

Assisted Dying as the Last Human Right: A Critical Review of the Eligibility Criteria for an Assisted Dying Framework in England and Wales

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posted on 2018-05-29, 14:48 authored by Nataly Papadopoulou
Within the vast work that has been done on assisted suicide, this thesis examines how assisted suicide may be legalised in England and Wales if Parliament decides that is necessary in the future. The thesis takes as starting point the three eligibility criteria proposed by the Commission on Assisted Dying, a privately-funded Commission established in 2012 to review the status of the current law in England and Wales. The thesis focuses on the practical side of the assisted suicide debate, and hints that studying how legalisation could take place in the future may hinge on whether it can ever be realised in practice. In particular, the thesis suggests that if Parliament decides to legalise assisted suicide in England and Wales, it should adopt a medico-legal framework that will respect both the right to life (Article 2) and the right to self-determination (Article 8) and the state obligations arising from these, and attempt to strike a balance. Parliament will then respect the rights of those who choose death over life, and safeguard the lives of those who do not want to die but may be unduly influenced into assisted death. To achieve this balance, the criterion relating to the physical or mental condition of the individual (terminal illness or unbearable suffering) should be abandoned, and a robust approach to safeguards adopted. Individuals should be able to request an assisted death if they have mental capacity, if they make a voluntary and informed decision, and if the Family Division of the High Court approves the assisted death. This is a new proposal that should be considered as an option if, and when Parliament decides that the time is ripe for legalisation. The right to control the manner and timing of death is ‘the last human right’ to which individuals should have access.



Wicks, Liz; Elliott, Tracey

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Law

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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