59. In the Haas case, the Court further developed this case-law by acknowledging that an individual’s right to decide the way in which and at which point his or her life should end, provided that he or she was in a position to freely form his or her own judgment and to act accordingly, was one of the aspects of the right to respect for private life within the meaning of Article 8 of the Convention (see Haas, cited above, § 51; see also Koch v. Germany, no. 497/09, § 52, 19 July 2012).
56. With regard to the balancing of the competing interests in this case, the Court is sympathetic to the applicant’s wish to commit suicide in a safe and dignified manner and without unnecessary pain and suffering, particularly given the high number of suicide attempts that are unsuccessful and which frequently have serious consequences for the individuals concerned and for their families. However, it is of the opinion that the regulations put in place by the Swiss authorities, namely the requirement to obtain a medical prescription, pursue, inter alia, the legitimate aims of protecting everybody from hasty decisions and preventing abuse, and, in particular, ensuring that a patient lacking discernment does not obtain a lethal dose of sodium pentobarbital (see, mutatis mutandis, with regard to restrictions on abortion, Tysiąc v. Poland, no. 5410/03, § 116, ECHR 2007‑IV).
the Court was “not prepared to exclude” that preventing the applicant by law from exercising her choice to avoid what she considered would be an undignified and distressing end to her life constituted an interference with her right to respect for her private life as guaranteed under Article 8 § 1 of the Convention (see Pretty, cited above, § 67).
Under the case-law of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, a doctor is entitled to prescribe sodium pentobarbital in order to allow his patient to commit suicide, provided that specific conditions laid down in the Federal Supreme Court’s case-law are fulfilled63. In the Haas case, the Court considered that it was appropriate to examine the applicant’s request to obtain access to sodium pentobarbital without a medical prescription from the perspective of a positive obligation on the State to take the necessary measures to permit a dignified suicide (see Haas, cited above, § 53). In contrast, the Court considers that the instant case primarily raises the question whether the State had failed to provide sufficient guidelines defining if and, in the case of the affirmative, under which circumstances medical practitioners were authorised to issue a medical prescription to a person in the applicant’s condition.
the Court observes that these guidelines, according to the scope of application defined in their section 1, only apply to patients whose doctor has arrived at the conclusion that a process has started which, as experience has indicated, will lead to death within a matter of days or a few weeks…. As the applicant is not suffering from a terminal illness, her case clearly does not fall within the scope of application of these guidelines. The Court further observes that the Government have not submitted any other material containing principles or standards which could serve as guidelines as to whether and under which circumstances a doctor is entitled to issue a prescription for sodium pentobarbital to a patient who, like the applicant, is not suffering from a terminal illness. The Court considers that this lack of clear legal guidelines is likely to have a chilling effect on doctors who would otherwise be inclined to provide someone such as the applicant with the requested medical prescription.
Swiss law, while providing the possibility of obtaining a lethal dose of sodium pentobarbital on medical prescription, does not provide sufficient guidelines ensuring clarity as to the extent of this right. There has accordingly been a violation of Article 8 of the Convention in this respect.