March
17
 

Locked-in syndrome man in UK to have euthanasia case heard

A paralysed Briton seeking legal protection for a doctor to euthanise him will have his right-to-die case heard, the UK High Court has ruled. Tony Nicklinson, 58, has had locked-in syndrome since a stroke in 2005 and is unable to kill himself.

The Ministry of Justice argues that making such a ruling would legalise murder, according to the BBC. Locked-in syndrome causes bodily paralysis but leaves the mind intact. The ruling means that Mr Nicklinson will make his case before a full hearing where medical evidence will be heard. Mr Nicklinson, who communicates through a special computer, describes his life before the ruling as “dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable”.

His legal action was launched to seek court declarations that a doctor could euthanase him to end his “indignity” and have a “common law defence of necessity” against any murder charge. However, David Perry QC, representing the Ministry of Justice, told the High Court that Mr Nicklinson “is saying the court should positively authorise and permit as lawful the deliberate taking of his life”. He added: “That is not, and cannot be, the law of England and Wales unless Parliament were to say otherwise.” After his ruling at the High Court, Mr Justice Charles said the issues in the case “raise questions that have great social, ethical and religious significance and they are questions on which widely differing beliefs and views are held, often strongly”.

Mr Nicklinson’s wife Jane read out a statement from her husband on BBC:

“I'm delighted that the issues surrounding assisted dying are to be aired in court. Politicians and others can hardly complain with the courts providing the forum for debate if the politicians continue to ignore one of the most important topics facing our society today. It's no longer acceptable for 21st Century medicine to be governed by 20th Century attitudes to death.” ~ BBC News, Mar 12



This article is published by Jared Yee 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.

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