Right-to-die verdict welcomed

The late locked-in sufferer Tony NicklinsonPA

Right-to-die campaigners have lost their legal challenges at the Court of Appeal in London today.

The challenge had been brought by the family of late locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson and paralysed road accident survivor Paul Lamb.

The Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, the Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson and Lord Justice Elias rejected the notion that "necessity" should be a defence in euthanasia cases, saying that this was not compatible with English law.

They concluded that the blanket prohibition on assisted suicide in the UK did not contravene Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and that existing laws were there to protect vulnerable people who may feel pressured into ending their lives.

However, the court did grant an appeal by a locked-in sufferer called "Martin" to seek further clarification of the Director of Public Prosecution's guidelines for assisted suicide cases requiring the involvement of a health professional, although the clarification will not change the current law.

The Care Not Killing alliance of pro-life organisations expressed concern about the court's decision on the case of Martin but welcomed its ruling on Nicklinson and Lamb.

Dr Andrew Fergusson, spokesman for the coalition, said: "These latest court cases, along with previous cases and the numerous debates in Parliament confirm that there is a limit to choice in a democratic and tolerant society.

"The judges acknowledged these are three tragic cases but agreed with our view that it is not acceptable to expect the state to sanction and condone murder.

"I hope this latest decision will now draw a line once and for all under the legal debate and allow politicians, society as a whole, and health professionals to focus attention on how we care for the terminally ill, disabled and elderly."

More News in Society