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Danish physician convicted of assisted suicide loses rights appeal

On April 12, the European Court of Human Rights decided that Denmark didn’t violate a doctor’s freedom of expression by jailing him for helping patients end their lives. 

In 2018, the Danish doctor Svend Ling got a two-month sentence for prescribing medication to help two patients end their lives and advising another on how to do so. Long challenged the conviction on the ground that it violated his right of free speech.

The court held that right protected his publication of a guide “Medicines Suited for Suicide.” But it did not protect his one-on-one advice to specific persons who committed, or attempted to commit, suicide. Unlike his general guide, Lings’ communication and advice to these individuals was concrete and “intensified their desire” to commit suicide.

Therefore, the European Court, sided with Copenhagen, came to the conclusion that Lings’ conviction for medically assisted suicide didn’t violate the European Convention on Human Rights. 

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