Tony Nicklinson, an Englishman, was paralyzed from the neck down after a stroke in 2005:
Tony can’t communicate other than through blinking and he wanted doctors to end his life on his own terms, instead of prolonging his suffering.
Yesterday, though, the High Court ruled that he can’t do that. If doctors let him die before it’s “his time,” they will be prosecuted. Nicklinson was devastated and it’s hard not to tear up seeing his reaction to the decision:
“Although I didn’t want to raise my hopes, it happened anyway because a fantastic amount of work went into my case and I thought that if the court saw me as I am, utterly miserable with my life, powerless to do anything about it because of my disability then the judges would accept my reasoning that I do not want to carry on and should be able to have a dignified death.
“I am saddened that the law wants to condemn me to a life of increasing indignity and misery.”
The British Humanist Association condemns the decision, too:
Andrew Copson BHA Chief Executive, commented ‘We are deeply disappointed by this news for Tony. We fully supported the legal case to establish the right to have a doctor lawfully end his life.
‘Mentally competent adults should be able to make decisions about their lives, as long as they do not result in harm to others. In cases where a patient is suffering incurably, is permanently incapacitated, and has made a clear and informed decision to end their life but is unable to do so independently, the law should allow a doctor to intervene. We also believe that there is an urgent need for Parliament to legislate on the matter, and to introduce a law which legalises assisted dying while also imposing safeguards to protect the vulnerable.
‘We will continue to support Tony as he appeals this decision and will also continue to call for an ethical and humane law on assisted dying that would protect the vulnerable, but also allow mentally competent adults the right to die with dignity in a time and manner of their own choosing.’
Raymond Tallis, Chair of the group Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying, has an article in the upcoming issue of New Humanist in which he offers rationale for why the law regarding assisted dying must be changed:
The case for a law to legalise the choice of physician-assisted dying for mentally competent people with terminal illness, who have expressed a settled wish to die, is very easily stated. Unbearable suffering, prolonged by medical care, and inflicted on a dying patient against their will, is an unequivocal evil. What’s more, the right to have your choices supported by others, to determine your own best interest, when you are of sound mind, is sovereign. And this is accepted by a steady 80-plus per cent of the UK population in successive surveys.
Without knowing the legal system overseas, this doesn’t appear to be the court’s fault. They’re just doing their jobs. But it’s up to English lawmakers to correct this injustice. It may be a politically incorrect topic, but it’s an important one. For all the thought given to the politics regarding birth and conception, we don’t pay much attention to end-of-life issues.
(via New Humanist)