UK right-to-die case gets go ahead

2012-03-12 15:02

London - A severely disabled British man who wants a doctor to be able to lawfully end his "intolerable" life can proceed with his court case, a judge ruled on Monday.

The High Court in London ruled that Tony Nicklinson, who is paralysed from the neck down but whose mental faculties are unaffected, can continue his legal fight to ensure that a doctor who kills him would be spared murder charges.

The Ministry of Justice wanted the case to be struck out, arguing that only parliament can change the law on murder.

Nicklinson, who suffers from locked-in syndrome following a stroke in 2005, has described his life as "dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable".

The 57-year-old, from Wiltshire in south-west England, is forced to communicate by controlling a computer with eye movements. His paralysis is so severe that killing him would go beyond assisted suicide.

Nicklinson's wife Jane said there was "huge" public support for his campaign for a doctor to be able to lawfully end his life.

No realistic chance

"The only way to relieve Tony's suffering will be to kill him. There is absolutely nothing else that can be done for him," she told BBC radio.

Judge William Charles struck out only one part of Nicklinson's claim on Monday, allowing most of the case to proceed.

The judge said Nicklinson did not have a realistic chance of persuading a court to declare that "existing domestic law and practice fail adequately to regulate the practice of active euthanasia".

"The reason for this is that the court should not engage in that debate because it is a matter for Parliament," the judge said, adding that the rest of the case could proceed.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide remain illegal in Britain, but an inquiry recommended in January that lawmakers should consider changing the law to let doctors help some terminally ill people end their lives.

  • Tony Lapson - 2012-03-12 15:59

    Locked in syndrome is the worst possible thing to happen to anyone. I would do the same.

  • Ofentse - 2012-03-12 16:12

    I totally agree

  • zaatheist - 2012-03-12 19:16

    Yes, everyone has an absolute right over their own life. Of course the opposition will come from those mean spirited religious hypocrites who would wish to impose their creepy world view on the rest of society. In a decade or two most civilised and secular countries will allow choice to the sane terminally ill. I would certainly want that option.

  • gold13 - 2012-03-13 01:52

    He does have the right to refuse treatment. Assuming that he he is not on a ventilator, why can he not refuse to eat (assuming he cannot feed himself)? Maybe a rhetorical question, is he being force fed which again is treatment he can legally refuse (assuming again he is of sound mind which I presume as it has gone the HC, as distinct from anorxia cases)? He is not asking for the right to commit suicide -again a matter for parliament - just for the right to exercise a sound, nay competent decision, at his time and choosing. Sorry, but I'm just a dumb law student but there seems to be more than one way to skin this cat that needn't involve our politicians. PG

  • Lindani - 2012-03-13 19:31

    i hope he has hes way...cause this man will not live trhis life after the one he had. whach his interview with the bbc and youll see that he was soo active. and people are gonna hypocritically say its being selfish and that he should just accept his lot. well its convenient since they DONT have locked in syndrome

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