Analysis: UK right-to-die law will still not succeed

Analysis by Dr Iain Brassington, ethicist, Centre for Social Ethics and Policy, University of Manchester:

"The Supreme Court will today witness the latest round in the right-to-die case brought by, and latterly on behalf of, Tony Nicklinson and Paul Lamb. Their claim is that the current law on assisted suicide is incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees respect for private and .

"Previous attempts to argue this have been rejected on the points of law, and the Courts have been highly reluctant to make more general statements about what should be legal in this regard, preferring to leave decisions about the legalisation or otherwise of assisted dying to Parliament.

"One small concession that was made in previous hearings is that it was deemed that the DPP should provide clear guidance about the legal status of a healthcare professional's having assisted a person to travel abroad for the purpose of ending his own life. However, that does not tell us anything about the case being heard today.

"It seems likely that this latest round of hearings will not advance Nicklinson's and Lamb's case. While Article 8 might confirm a person's right to end her own life, it does not follow from that that there is a right to assistance; and it is straightforward that there are limits to the protection that the Article affords: it does not mean that everything that happens within the confines of the home is privileged.

"Neither will the necessity argument - an important component of the claim - work, because it is not necessary to end a person's life to end his suffering. We could imagine it being possible to induce permanent deep sedation, for example: this would mean that the patient would no longer be aware of his intolerable life, but would not require that that be ended. As such, dying is not necessary.

"Therefore it seems reasonable to predict that, once again, the judges will express sympathy for the plight of those who want to end their lives but are unable, but will once again assert that there is nothing that they can, or are willing, to do."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

UK court rules against euthanasia (Update)

Jul 31, 2013

A British appeals court upheld a law against euthanasia in rejecting appeals from two severely disabled men who argued that doctors should be allowed to legally kill them.

Tribunals needed for assisted suicide in the UK

Nov 08, 2013

A new tribunal-style system to provide sympathetic and speedy consideration for each and every terminally-ill patient who wishes to end their lives is needed according to Claudia Carr, from the University ...

UK denies right-to-die legal challenge (Update)

Aug 16, 2012

(AP) — Britain's High Court on Thursday rejected an attempt by a man who has locked-in syndrome to overturn the country's euthanasia law by refusing to legally allow doctors to end his life.

Recommended for you

Cold cash just keeps washing in from ALS challenge

Aug 28, 2014

In the couple of hours it took an official from the ALS Association to return a reporter's call for comment, the group's ubiquitous "ice bucket challenge" had brought in a few million more dollars.

Medtronic spends $350M on another European deal

Aug 27, 2014

U.S. medical device maker Medtronic is building stronger ties to Europe, a couple months after announcing a $42.9 billion acquisition that involves moving its main executive offices across the Atlantic, where it can get a ...

Mind over matter for people with disabilities

Aug 26, 2014

People with serious physical disabilities are unable to do the everyday things that most of us take for granted despite having the will – and the brainpower – to do so. This is changing thanks to European ...

Ukraine's former world's tallest man dies

Aug 25, 2014

Ukraine's tallest man, who briefly held the world record but gave it up to live as a recluse, has died due to complications from the condition that saw him never stop growing, local media reported Monday.

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Osiris1
not rated yet Dec 16, 2013
Always the 'plight of those that "want to die"....to the benefit of insurance companies that are threatening the survivors with the bills, ruination, and bankruptcy if they do not 'consent' to have their mother... 'WHACKED'....., or otherwise bumped off or 'snuffed' by their own loving doctors. These cases are usually the thin edge of the wedge, the stalking horses for the 'duty to die' boys and their slavering needles and ravenously hungry wallets, wives, mistresses, etc.

This law will probably fail for another reason though. The big money in Merrie Olde Englande now is all Muslim Arabs from the Magic Kingdom. That is why Muslims in England are above the law there, and no Brit dare 'insult one' lest he/she get slammed into the Tower of London for Lese Majeste!! Muslims take a very DIM view of suicide. So when the 'suicide duty law' fails, those who would want save their rellies should say a prayer toward Mecca and leave a gift on Eid al-Adha at their local Mosque.