‘Too old to live’ woman seeks court action over Swiss lethal injection ban

An elderly woman, unwilling to suffer further mental and physical decline, wants human rights judges to back a complaint against Switzerland for refusing her a lethal injection.

The European Court of Human Rights will give written notification of its decision in the case Gross v. Switzerland (no. 67810/10) on Tuesday 14 May.

The applicant, Alda Gross, is a Swiss national who was born in 1931 and lives in Greifensee (Switzerland). For a number of years, she has wanted to end her life. Although not suffering from any clinical illness, she submits that she is over 80 and unwilling to continue suffering the decline of her physical and mental faculties.

Having unsuccessfully attempted to find a doctor willing to issue the prescription required to obtain a lethal dose of sodium pentobarbital, she applied to the Health Board, which rejected her request to be provided with the drug in a decision eventually upheld by the courts in April 2010.

She complains that by denying her the right to decide by what means and at what point her life would end the Swiss authorities have breached Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the Convention.

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