Today has been a very sad day. No not because Julian Assange has been granted political asylum to Ecuador (there is a lot to play out there and many twists and turns) but because a man suffering from locked-in syndrome has been denied the right to die – and that is a truly depressing situation that we have found ourselves in.
Tony Nicklinson today heard that the court has decided that it isn’t for them to decide and is one for parliament and therefore they would not grant him and one other person the right to die.
Mr Nicklinson said the following in a statement to the high court:
“I have no privacy or dignity left. I am washed, dressed and put to bed by carers who are, after all, still strangers. You try defecating to order whilst suspended in a sling over a commode and see how you get on. I am fed up with my life and don’t want to spend the next 20 years or so like this.”
Adding, “Am I grateful that the Athens doctors saved my life? No, I am not. If I had my time again, and knew then what I know now, I would not have called the ambulance but let nature take its course.
“I was given no choice as to whether or not I wanted to be saved. However, I do concede that it was a fair assumption given that I had asked for the ambulance and associated medical staff. What I object to is having my right to choose taken away from me after I had been saved.”
“I’m not depressed so do not need counselling. I have had over six years to think about my future and it does not look good. I have locked-in syndrome and I can expect no cure or improvement in my condition as my muscles and joints seize up through lack of use.
“Indeed, I can expect to dribble my way into old age. If I am lucky I will acquire a life-threatening illness such as cancer so that I can refuse treatment and say no to those who would keep me alive against my will. By all means protect the vulnerable. By vulnerable I mean those who cannot make decisions for themselves. Just don’t include me.”
I don’t sit on the fence on this issue. I don’t even sit near the fence in all honesty. The man is of sane mind and does not want to live any more yet he is unable to end his own life. Therefore he needs assistance to end his life and I fully believe that people should be able to provide that assistance without threat of criminal charges following them. The right to life is as important as anything but the right to die is part of that.
I have seen bits and pieces on twitter that there will be a motion on this at Liberal Democrat Conference next month and it is certainly something that I would fully support. If someone feels that they have no dignity in life then surely they should be allowed dignity in death. When there is no question about a person’s sanity then for me there shouldn’t even be a debate. I am very disappointed by the decision of the high court today and hopefully it will be overturned either on appeal or by a change in the law. Either way this man (and others) deserve the right to die with dignity.
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