The Quickie

A bite-sized look at this week's news…

Judicial Review of assisted suicide law

Posted by allie1985 on October 21, 2008

Debbie Purdy, 45 is trying to force the High Court to clarify its position on assisted suicide in foreign countries.

She wants Sir Ken Macdonald, director of Public Prosecutions, to decide whether friends and family who travel to help love ones die are exempt from prosecution.

Currently all forms of suicide and assisted suicide are illegal in the UK.

 Debbie Purdy

Debbie Purdy suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. It is a long-term degenerative disease which can leave the sufferer in large amounts of pain and discomfort.

Purdy is already in a wheelchair and wishes to be able to take her own life when the time is right. She does not want to have a reduced quality of life or be a burden to her loved ones.

She is planning to go to the Dignitas Clinic in Switzerland to end her life, but is concerned for the welfare of her husband Omar Puente if he accompanies her.

“If I leave it too late and need his help, he faces 14 years in jail. And that’s more frightening to me than going to Switzerland by myself and ending my life before I’m ready”

Despite this Omar has confirmed that he will accompany his wife no matter the risk.

 Briton’s who have died abroad

Since the Dignitas clinic open 10 years ago, about 100 Britons have ended their lives and to date no one who assisted has been charged.

Although some have been investigated.

But for Debbie this blind eye approach is not adequate, she needs to know for certain.

“I want to know what the law considers to be assisting suicide – is Omar open to prosecution if he helps me into a taxi to the airport, or books my flights?”

Judicial Review

In June the High Court granted Debbie a judicial review in to the current law.

According to Lord Justice Latham “The process of determing how to end one’s life is as much part of the process of ordering one’s life as any other serious decision”

There has yet to be a verdict.

 Other cases

Previously, in 2001 Diane Pretty also wanted the courts assurances that her husband would not be prosecuted if he help her to die. Diane suffered from Motor Neuron disease. Her request was not granted and she died a few months later.

Main article

 Alexandra Murphy

(Alexandra.murphy@my.westminster.ac.uk)

 

 

 


 

 

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