UK & World News
Sufferers Lose Landmark Right-To-Die Battle
Two victims of locked-in syndrome have lost their legal battles for the right to end their lives with medical help.
The High Court had been told of 58-year-old Tony Nicklinson's existence of "pure torture", which could continue, if he cannot end it, for another 20 years or more.
Mr Nicklinson said in a statement: "I am devastated by the court's decision.
"I am saddened that the law wants to condemn me to a life of increasing indignity and misery."
He told Sky News the judgement was "incredibly one-sided" and that he believed he had grounds for appeal.
"The only points they seem to have addressed are the points put forward by the opposition," he said.
"All of the points we put forward have barely been touched upon."
Mr Nicklinson's wife, Jane, said he was "absolutely heartbroken".
His case was being heard along with that of a 47-year-old man who cannot be named for legal reasons, but who is referred to as Martin.
Lord Justice Toulson, sitting with Mr Justice Royce and Mrs Justice Macur, said both are tragic cases which raise constitutional issues and "present society with legal and ethical questions of the most difficult kind".
Both men suffer from catastrophic physical disabilities, but their mental processes are unimpaired and they are fully conscious of their predicament.
Barring unforeseen medical advances, neither man's condition is capable of physical improvement.
The judge said: "To do as Tony wants, the court would be making a major change in the law. To do as Martin wants, the court would be compelling the Director of Public Prosecutions to go beyond his established legal role.
"These are not things which the court should do. 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, representing society as a whole, after parliamentary scrutiny, and not for the court on the facts of an individual case or cases."
Mr Justice Royce agreed, saying: "No one could fail to be deeply moved by the terrible predicament faced by these men struck down in their prime and facing a future bereft of hope.
"Some will say the judges must step in to change the law. Some will be sorely tempted to do so.
"But the short answer is that to do so here would be to usurp the function of Parliament in this classically sensitive area."
Mr Nicklinson wanted a declaration that it would not be unlawful "on the grounds of necessity" for his GP, or another doctor, to assist him to die.
Alternatively, he wanted a declaration that the current law on murder or assisted suicide was incompatible with his right to respect for his private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Martin was primarily seeking a clarification of policy so that professional people who might be willing to assist him to commit suicide through the use of Dignitas, the Swiss group that specialises in assisted dying, would know whether they would be "more likely than not" to face prosecution in England.
Rejecting all the applications made by both men, Lord Justice Toulson said it would be wrong "for the court to depart from the long established position that voluntary euthanasia is murder, however understandable the motives may be ..."
It would also be wrong to hold that Article 8 afforded a possible defence to murder, said the judge.
Mr Nicklinson was left paralysed by a catastrophic stroke while on a business trip to Athens in 2005.
He has summed up his existence as "dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable", a life that he does not wish to live for decades to come.
Mr Nicklinson's lawyer, Saimo Chahal, said he intended to appeal the decision.
"Naturally it's a very disappointing judgement we've received today, but it's not altogether surprising," she said.
"It would take a very bold court, in the first instance, to make the decisions that Tony has made. Today is obviously not the last word."
Anti-euthanasia campaign group Care Not Killing welcomed the ruling.
DNK spokesman Dr Andrew Fergusson said: "It confirms the simple truth that the current law exists to protect those without a voice: the disabled, terminally ill and elderly, who might otherwise feel pressured into ending their lives."
what do you think?
So sad that people are forced to endure a living hell when you would so rightly be prosecuted if you did the same to an animal! Proud of you Tony, keep up the good fight, do hope you get the right verdit before much longer. There is no life without quality of life, only an existence !
That poor man! He only exists, he's not living.....
It's disgusting! Let the poor men have control of their own future without their loved ones facing prosecution!!
who are these people who think they have the right to decide another human beings fate. why are they allowed to condem people to carry on living a life worse than death. to live a life of constant pain and suffering. it is immoral and wrong. one day we hear from people who are dying because government cuts are denying them medication on the grounds that it is to expensive, today it is fighting to keep people alive who wish to die. theres something terribly wrong with our society today and a lot of it is down to the incompetant interfering rulers running the country.
these are the people who we let rule our lives, if it suited them, everyone over 60 would be got rid of because they are in the way.
there quite clearly are worse things than death as these poor souls clearly show.
we kill a horse if it breaks a leg,,we shot a dog if it has rabies,but people who have no quality of life ,,i.e stuck in a body and nothing works but your brain,,must be bad,so why dont we let them die,EASY some healthy judge who has not got this disease says no you cant die with dignity,but live 20 more years with not a stitch of dignity.so whats the problem.let them die if they want to after all who will they harm no one because they cant move,as for dnk doc andrew fergusson dose he think these peopl would be taken into a room and told sign this to die and be kept there till they sign (IDIOT)
Jan N Andy Oakley-Hills
What is so sacred about making someone continue to exist in a living hell when they have expressed their wish to die? Nobody has the right to impose their own religious convictions on somebody else, this is pure hypocrasy and no better than legalised torture!! Absolute madness - let's hope there is at least one good friend or family member who is prepared to ignore this legal ruling and risk the consequences!!!
This is what will happen, and I wouldn't blame them, either!
Parliament take notice! Courts will always read how the law applies, they do not judge whether the law is right. Please award these poor guys the power the rest of us have over our own destiny. All you hear about in the health service now is about respecting dignity and choice. The law, as it stands, is deeply contradictory on this and needs a refresh.
They make it impossible for people to live, then they make it impossible for people to die. Everything we do to try and make some kind of a life, they put so many obstacles in the way you end up being nothing. When people want to die to escape, they say everyone never had everything so good and all we do is complain. Then, when some people try to escape from life, they even try and stop that. No wonder everyone goes insane. Then they try to make more money from everyone because of that! They try to make everyone go mad from being unable to live and unable to die, then they make a profit from all the medicines prescribed for their insanity. People can't live, people can't die. The answer to that is what?
It must be hell to be in this situation. These judges are so out of touch with reality, imagine if it were them in the same position I'm sure they'd think differently. You cannot apply mechanical laws to these decisions without using sense and empathy.
I am very sad to read this and my heart goes out to Tony and the other gentleman. I fully support the right to end your own life when you are of sound mind and it is what you wish and your close ones know it is what you wish. I understand the right to protect against abuse etc but this to me is stripping someone of their rights. Keep on Tony.
I fully agree, bernadette!
I worked in a nursing home for a few years. When anew resident came to the home they were asked with family members if they were to have a heart attack etc did they want to be revived and have medical intervention. Most with family backing said no as they would have a poor quality if life. So what isthe difference in these sorts if cases. What is the difference of helping someone to die or not helping someone because they want to die
I am so sorry about this decision, which i think is misguided. I saw Tony Nicklinson on tv recently and was impressed and moved by his situation. Your life is your own and you should be assisted to die when you feel the right time has come. No one who is not in this situation should be allowed to deny others a release from life.
When a very close relative was dying, the attending gp spoke to each of us in turn, to be certain that we agreed with a big morphine increase and all that would ensue. We were so grateful to have the opportunity to bring him peace. If we had not and the suffering would have lasted one more day i would have administered a huge Oramorph dose myself. I hope someone will do the same for me, but am so fearful that my family would be prosecuted. I am fearful to say who the relative was as i would not want to get the gp into trouble, but am forever grateful to the doctor
I strongly suspect that my father-in-law got the same treatment. I believe many other doctors do the same, he sould change his doctor
so so sad , he should be able to be in control of his own destiny.
so wrong on so many levels. let the pour man be at peace the laws in this country are disgracefull, how can them judges be in a job with a huge pay packet, if i carryed on like that in my buissnes id be borded up and bankrupt. good luck tony :) anyone thourt of a online petistion ? were do i sign !!!!
To the person who has given all thumbs down what is your argument against being to end your own life if you were in the position if these two men? Would you really be happy to live with no quality if life?
krafty81. Read the comment above.
The judges made the right decision. Once the ball starts rolling where will it stop? If it was allowed I'm sure all manner of safety precautions would be put in place, but go further forward 20, 30, even 50 years time when the laws have been tweaked a bit and because you have an aged relative who just happens to be in the way a doctor on your say so would be able to put them down. Before you say that can't/won't happen, take a good look at the abortion laws in this country, very strict when they first came in, but look at them now. Its very sad the life these people have but the far reaching consequences could and would be much worse.
These aren't old people. These two men are aware of their situation. They have been asked to die with dignity. I understand where you are coming from about the elderly. But Surely as long as we are of sound mind and can prove it is our choice we should be able to end our life. Maybe like with organ donation if we could make it clear if something bad happens to us that would lose us our quality of life there should be no intervention. Ok I'm not sure how it would work but don't we have a right to control our destiny?
They do have the choice, not a pleasant one I grant you. They can refuse treatment and all forms of sustenance. A terrible thing to happen but the outcome for future generations is devastating. The majority of people cannot choose when they die it's something that just happens to most of us.
We wouldnt let an animal suffer and they would be put out of their misery. The same should be said for humans. As long as the person is of sound mind they should be able to make the decision. It puts into question whether when a hospital patient requests a DNR (do not rescusitate), does this mean that hospital staff are guilty of murder?