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There's Nothing Natural about Doctor-Aided Death (Or This Case)

By Marissa Mayer posted on:
October 17, 2017

What does Alda Gross have to say now that the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has thrown out her case against the Swiss government demanding access to doctor-aided death?

Unfortunately, we'll never know.

In a twist better suited for your favorite primetime legal drama, it was revealed that the ECHR had previously ruled in her favor, even though Gross had died before the ruling … by doctor-aided death.

Switzerland is one of four European countries to allow doctor-aided death, but Swiss law currently requires a doctor's examination and prescription, and is reserved for the terminally ill—Gross was not. While she still managed to obtain the drug without a prescription, she wasn't ready to give up her case.

With the help of her "confidant," a volunteer for the pro-aided death group EXIT, Gross' death was kept a secret for over three years as her case traveled to the European Court of Human Rights, which sided in Gross' favor, and then the Grand Chamber. But when news broke that Gross was in fact dead and had been for quite some time, and by the very drug that she was suing to obtain, it was all over.

If it wasn't so tragic and heartbreaking, it'd almost be ironic. But there's nothing humorous about suicide—assisted or otherwise. There's nothing humorous or natural about a woman wanting to die.

In the United States, over 90% of people committing suicide have a mental illness. But mental illness isn't a terminal disease—a critical point in Gross' case.

“Because the government has an obligation to protect life, not assist in promoting death, we are pleased to see this bad decision thrown out despite the extraordinary circumstances,” said ADF Legal Counsel Paul Coleman. “The lawsuit’s claim that a person should be able to do whatever he or she pleases does not override national laws rightfully designed to protect the weak and vulnerable.”

Ezekial Emmanuel, Director of the Clinical Bioethics Department at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, recently caused quite a stir with his piece in The Atlantic titled, "Why I Hope to Die at 75." While his thoughts about life and death are unconventional and somewhat disturbing, even he makes a case against suicide and doctor-aided death.

"[I am not] talking about waking up one morning 18 years from now and ending my life through euthanasia or suicide. Since the 1990s, I have actively opposed legalizing euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. People who want to die in one of these ways tend to suffer not from unremitting pain but from depression, hopelessness, and fear of losing their dignity and control."

The emotional and psychological pain of mental illness is real, but the answer isn't death. The right thing—the humane thing —to do is not to help these people end their life, but to help them live it.

As renowned suicidologist E. S. Shneidman once said, "It is possible—indeed probably prototypical—for a suicidal individual to cut his throat and to cry for help at the same time."

Take Action:

It's too late for Alda Gross, but we can save countless lives by working together to restore the value of human life and to stop the spread of harmful laws that make it easy to end lives. Help us by spreading the word and sharing this post on social media today.


Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer

Senior Copywriter & Editor

Marissa Mayer is an Arizona native who fell in love with the written word at a young age.


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