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Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences

Faculty of Law

Dr Stevie Martin has been awarded the Yorke Prize for her doctoral thesis entitled 'Assisted Suicide and the European Convention on Human Rights', which was published by Routledge earlier this year. The Yorke Prize was endowed in 1873 by Edmund Yorke, Scholar and Fellow of St Catharine’s College, and it is awarded annually by the Faculty of Law at the University of Cambridge for an essay of exceptional quality, which makes a substantial contribution to a field of legal knowledge.

Locating assisted suicide within the broader medical end-of-life context and drawing on the empirical data available from the increasing number of permissive jurisdictions, Dr Martin's thesis provides a novel examination of the human rights implications of the prohibition on assisted suicide in England and Wales and beyond. Assisted suicide is a contentious topic and one which has been the subject of judicial and academic debate internationally. The central objective of the thesis is to approach the question of the ban’s compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights afresh; freed from the constraints of the existing case law and its erroneous approach to the legal issues and selective reliance on empirical data. The thesis also examines the compatibility of the ban on assisted suicide with rights which have either been erroneously disregarded or not considered by either the domestic courts or the European Court of Human Rights. Having regard to human rights jurisprudence more broadly, including in the context of abortion, the research and analysis undertaken here demonstrates that the ban on assisted suicide violates the rights of a significant number of individuals to life, to freedom from torture or inhuman or degrading treatment and to private life. Such analysis does not depend on a strained or contrived approach to the rights at issue. Rather, the conclusions flow naturally from a coherent, logical application of the established principles governing those rights.