On 25 January, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe declared that “euthanasia, in the sense of the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit must always be prohibited”.
This may not be legally binding on the laws of any European state, but the Council of Europe is a highly influential body in European law; it is responsible for the European Court of Human Rights, and signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights (of which the UK is one) permit appeals on human rights grounds to this Court.
The reportage of this in the UK media is instructive, not so much about the story itself, but on the agendas of different media outlets. The Telegraph reports it; the Mail has caught on rather belatedly. The Guardian and the (supposedly unbiased) BBC do not. Indeed, the BBC has a front page link to a story about a ‘right-to-die case’, but no mention of the decision which may well mean that case is dead in the water. Most of the other media, at least in their on-line disincarnations, remain similarly silent.
The impression given, then, by the media in the UK is that this hasn’t happened; that the campaign for death continues unabated. The portrayal of those opposed to euthanasia as out-of-touch fanatics would be undermined if it came to the attention of the public that actually pro-euthanasia views are very widely considered repulsive, and alien to a culture of human rights, and that it is the vocal and media-backed bandwagon in the UK which is radically out of step.
So it is swept under the carpet; at least until a case goes to the European Court; and meanwhile much prominence is given to the Prime Minister’s objections to the European Court’s involvement in UK legal matters.
For their different reasons, the euthanasia campaign and the Conservative element of government both need to avoid any mature and impartial human rights jurisdiction interfering with their ability to drive their own agendas, whatever the cost for humanity.