Two British severely paralyzed men have lost a High Court case to allow doctors to end their lives without fear of prosecution. Fifty-eight-year-old Tony Nicklinson became paralysed after a massive stroke in 2005 and can only communicate by blinking. He describes his life as a “living nightmare". Another man, a 47-year-old known only as Martin, also lost his case to end his life with medical help.
Lord Justice Toulson said: "A decision to allow their claims would have consequences far beyond the present cases. To do as Tony wants, the court would be making a major change in the law. It is not for the court to decide whether the law about assisted dying should be changed and, if so, what safeguards should be put in place. Under our system of government these are matters for Parliament to decide."
What Mr Nicklinson wants is not assisted suicide but euthanasia, as he cannot take a lethal dose of drugs even if they have been prepared by someone else. He could starve himself to death, but this would be slow and painful. Unlike some other Britons, he does not have the Dignitas option in Switzerland, because even there euthanasia is not permitted.
For the British Medical Association, euthanasia, even in an extreme case like Mr Nicklinson, is a step too far. Dr Tony Calland, of the BMA's medical ethics committee, said: "The BMA does not believe that it would be in society's best interests for doctors to be able to legally end a patient's life. The BMA is opposed to the legalisation of assisted dying and we are not lobbying for any change in the law in the UK".
Mr Nicklinson says that he will appeal against the decision. ~ BBC, Aug 16
This article is published by Michael Cook
and BioEdge.org under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines
. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us
for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.