BY Martin Dunlop | August 24 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


SPUC backs rejection of ‘right to die’

— Pro-life charity relieved that Tony Nicklinson, who died on Wednesday, lost his case

Pro-life charity SPUC has welcomed a decision from the High Court rejecting the assisted suicide requests of two men with locked-in syndrome.

Tony Nicklinson (right), 58, and a second man known as Martin, 47, mounted legal challenges in an attempt to secure immunity from prosecution for any professional who helped them to die.

After losing his case at the High Court last Thursday, Mr Nicklinson urged MSPs to back Independent MSP Margo MacDonald’s bid to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland. He died of natural causes on Wednesday, his family said.


Deeply moving

Explaining the court’s decision to reject the requests of Mr Nicklinson and Martin, Lord Justice Toulson, said that both cases were ‘deeply moving’ but added that ‘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,” he said. “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.”

Paul Tully, general secretary of The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), the pro-life charity, which was officially represented in the high-profile Debbie Purdy and Diane Pretty assisted dying cases, backed last week’s decision.

“We offer our condolences to Mr Nicklinson’s family and friends. We note reports that his death was peaceful and while surrounded by his loved ones,” he said, before adding ‘We welcome the High Court’s ruling, and we question whether those who have encouraged Mr Nicklinson and ‘Martin’ to pursue this legal action have the best interests of disabled people at heartThe court has reiterated once again that direct, active, voluntary euthanasia is unlawful in English and European law.’

Mr Tully added that ‘to have allowed euthanasia would have seriously undermined both the laws against homicide and the right to life enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights.’

“Those who are sick, vulnerable or disabled need the law to be robust in protecting the inviolability of every human life. That is why SPUC Pro-Life was officially represented before the courts in the Debbie Purdy and Diane Pretty cases. Compassion and solidarity are the humane and caring responses to locked-in-syndrome.

“To legalise killing of those who are suffering would adversely affect many, many people. We believe that Mr Nicklinson and ‘Martin’ have lives of equal value to any other member of society. We urge those around them to rise to the challenge of helping them realise their value and overcome their sense of hopelessness.”


Scottish law

The late Mr Nicklinson, a father-of-two, was left paralysed with locked-in-syndrome after a catastrophic stroke while on a business trip to Athens in 2005.

He communicated by blinking and described his life as a ‘living nightmare’ since the stroke. He has said he will appeal against the High Court’s decision to reject his request. Prior to his death, he backed Ms MacDonald’s second attempt to legalise assisted suicide north of the border with a bill in the Scottish Parliament.

Holyrood rejected a similar bill by Ms MacDonald, who has Parkinson’s disease, two years ago.

“I think it is very important because, although it may have a different legal system, Scotland is also part of the UK,” Mr Nicklinson said. “Would it blaze a trail that Westminster and others could follow? One would hope so.”

Mr Tully concluded, however, that he hopes last Thursday’s High Court ruling ‘will help end the insidious campaign in the British courts to change the law on assisted suicide and euthanasia.’



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