Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Assusted Dying

The debate in the UK rumbles on but at a low level.

Ms Purdy, a woman suffering from multiple sclerosis, brought a case to clarify the law on assisted suicide. She wanted to ensure that if she travelled with her husband to a Swiss clinic to end her life, he would not be prosecuted on his return to Britain.

The law as it stands means that if her husband does accompany her he may be prosecuted if the Director of Public Prosecutions decides that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public's interest to do so.

The judges said that although they have every sympathy with Ms Purdy they cannot help her to clarify the law. The courts can give her no guidance.

In the words of Lord Justice Scott Baker and Mr Justice Aikens: “The offence of assisted suicide is very widely drawn to cover all manner of different circumstance; only Parliament can change it.”

Lord Joffe (one of the advocates of "liberalisation") in The Times has written an article advocating a major change in the law.

Thankfully his emotional article has not gone unanswered.

Lord Carlile of Berriew, QC and William Cowan in separate letters to The Times make it quite clear that the present campaign is entirely misguided and emotional. Opposition to the proposals are not only founded on religion or faith. Arguments on the basis of public safety, legal certainty and the protection by the law of the vulnerable. are and should be enough to defeat any such proposal to allow "assisted dying".