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Alonzo-ny
August 4th, 2009, 04:05 PM
MS woman wins right-to-die fight
From BBC

Debbie Purdy: "It gives me my life back, it means I don't have to make a decision"

A woman with multiple sclerosis has made legal history by winning her battle to have the law on assisted suicide clarified.

Debbie Purdy wanted to know if her husband would be prosecuted if he helped her end her life in Switzerland.

Five Law Lords ruled the Director of Public Prosecutions must specify when a person might face prosecution.

Ms Purdy, 46, from Bradford, said she was "ecstatic" at the ruling and she had been given her life back.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said he would publish an interim policy on when prosecutions could occur by September before putting the issue out to public consultation. Permanent policy will be published next spring.

Ms Purdy said the Law Lords' decision was "a huge step towards a more compassionate law".

"I'm ecstatic - I feel like I've been given a reprieve.

"I want to live my life to the full but I don't want to suffer unnecessarily at the end of my life.

It's not for the state to choose how Debbie Purdy and others live or die. It must be the choice of the individual, with protection from the state for those who help

Jim, Halifax, UK
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"The decision means that I can make an informed choice, with Omar, about whether he travels abroad with me to end my life because we will know exactly where we stand."

No one has been prosecuted for assisting someone's death, although the law says they could potentially face 14 years in prison.

The House of Lords, the highest court in the land, said the law was not as clear and precise as it should be.

Five Law Lords unanimously backed Ms Purdy's call for a policy statement from the Director of Public Prosecutions on when someone might face prosecution for helping a loved one end their life abroad.

Ms Purdy said she would like to see the policy distinguish between "what is acceptable and what isn't" so people in situations like hers could make decisions about what to do.

A spokesman from the Ministry of Justice said any change in the law was up to parliament.

"In a free vote on the issue on 7 July, the House of Lords rejected an attempt to decriminalise assisted suicide in circumstances where terminally ill people are helped to travel to countries where assisting dying is lawful," he said.

Human rights

The Law Lords also said she had the right to choose how she died, under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.


That must be better than the current legal muddle
Sarah Wootton, Dignity in Dying

In a summary of their decision, the Law Lords said: "Everyone has the right to respect for their private life and the way that Ms Purdy determines to spend the closing moments of her life is part of the act of living.

"Ms Purdy wishes to avoid an undignified and distressing end to her life. She is entitled to ask that this too must be respected."

She had previously lost challenges in the High Court and Court of Appeal. The Lords ruling was her last chance of success in the UK legal system.

Ms Purdy, married to Cuban violinist Omar Puente, was diagnosed with primary progressive MS in March 1995. She can no longer walk and is gradually losing strength in her upper body.

DPP Keir Starmer: "I will be issuing a policy on assisted suicide"

She has suggested that at some point she may travel to Switzerland to take a lethal dose of barbiturates prescribed by doctors at the controversial Dignitas organisation.

More than 100 UK citizens have so far ended their lives at Dignitas, and no-one who has accompanied them has ever been prosecuted on their return to the UK.

However, the reasons why legal action has not been taken have never been made clear.

'Significant victory'

Ms Purdy had previously said if the law was not clarified she would have had to end her life earlier than she wanted to.

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, said: "This historic judgement ensures the law keeps up with changes in society and crucially, provides a more rational deterrent to abuse than a blanket ban which is never enforced.


Without exception, every disability rights group in the country, are completely opposed to any changing of the laws on assisted suicide and euthanasia
Right To Life

"That must be better than the current legal muddle.

"The ruling is significant because it distinguishes between maliciously encouraging someone to commit suicide and compassionately supporting someone's decision to die."

Former Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, said it was a "very significant victory".

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the MS Society, said: "There are 100,000 people with MS across the UK and most will live about as long as any of us.

"The key to living well with MS is getting the right care and support from the point of diagnosis, including palliative care when it's needed."

Attacking the decision, Phyllis Bowman, executive officer of Right To Life, said the group would be consulting its lawyers about what action it could take.

"Much as we sympathise with Ms Purdy, we are extremely concerned about the manner in which this will leave the vulnerable - that is the disabled, the sick, and the aged.

"Without exception, every disability rights group in the country, are completely opposed to any changing of the laws on assisted suicide and euthanasia."

Alonzo-ny
August 4th, 2009, 04:06 PM
Suicide law to apply domestically
From BBC

Debbie Purdy is concerned her husband could be prosecuted

Guidelines on the issue of assisted suicide will apply domestically as well as overseas, the Director of Public Prosecutions has confirmed.

Keir Stamer QC spoke after a woman with multiple sclerosis won her battle to have the law clarified.

Debbie Purdy wanted to know if her husband would be prosecuted if he helped her end her life in Switzerland.

Commons leader Harriet Harman has said MPs could debate the subject when they return from their summer break.

It had been assumed that new guidance would affect only those who go abroad to die.

Court decision

More than 100 people from the UK have gone to the Swiss clinic Dignitas to die, but no-one has been prosecuted so far.

But under the 1961 Suicide Act covering England and Wales, those who aid, abet, counsel or procure someone else's suicide can be prosecuted and sentenced to serve up to 14 years in jail.

This policy is going to cover all assisted suicides
Keir Stamer
Director of Public Prosecutions

The law is almost identical in Northern Ireland.

Suicide is not illegal in Scotland but the law on assisted suicide is not clear and there is continuing uncertainty.

Ms Purdy, from Undercliffe in Bradford, West Yorkshire, took her case to the highest court in the country after the High Court and Court of Appeal held that it was for Parliament, not the courts, to change the law.

'Broad principles'

Last week the Law Lords agreed that changes were a matter for Parliament, but upheld Ms Purdy's argument that the DPP should put in writing the factors that he regarded as relevant in deciding whether or not to prosecute.

Mr Starmer told the Daily Telegraph: "This policy is going to cover all assisted suicides. The same broad principles will apply. They've got to apply to all acts, in the jurisdiction or out of it.

"We won't have separate rules for Dignitas."

He said a political decision had to be made on whether some assisted suicide is legal.

"That decision needs to be made by Parliament."

He denied that any new interpretation of the law would lead to a large increase in assisted suicides.

Ms Harman told the BBC: "There might well be a debate when the House of Commons gets back but it's not a party political matter or even a government matter, it's actually on a conscience, on a free vote issue."

Last month peers voted against a move to allow assisted suicide.

The campaign group Dignity in Dying says parliamentarians will come under increasing pressure to provide a proper solution, which "doesn't involve exporting it abroad."

Alonzo-ny
August 4th, 2009, 04:07 PM
Where does the US stand on this?

ablarc
August 4th, 2009, 05:23 PM
Oregon and Washington say it's OK if you meet a bunch of conditions and a physician administers the coup de grace.

ZippyTheChimp
August 4th, 2009, 05:45 PM
Legal in 3 states, the 2 above, and Montana.

Wiki has two overlapping pages with lots of information.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthanasia_in_the_United_States
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assisted_suicide_in_the_United_States

On Jan17, 2006, the US supreme Court handed down a decision upholding the Oregon law, rejecting the Bush Administration (AG John Ashcroft ) position.

Justice Anthony Kennedy:
authority claimed by the Attorney General is both beyond his expertise and incongruous with the statutory purposes and design.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10891536/

Alonzo-ny
August 4th, 2009, 05:50 PM
What are your feelings on the subject?

ablarc
August 4th, 2009, 06:22 PM
If I had the option, I'd probably choose it in the end. If I lived in the Netherlands, I'd have plenty of company.

lofter1
August 4th, 2009, 09:40 PM
In regards to those who are so ill that their quality of life has been diminished beyond any reasonable level and thereby choose to end it ...

It takes place all the time in the US.

Physicians and patients talk it out. Patients then make choices that allow them to control the moment. Of course the physician is not present at the time when the act is played out, because then someone could stick their nose where it doesn't belong and then sue the doc and ruin the doc's life.

The fact is that a planned suicide results in a far more humane situation than leaving people desperate and alone and left with no real option but to do themselves in under unseemly and very possibly terrifying conditions.

I'd opt for if I were in situations such as those I know who were compelled to make that choice.

Ninjahedge
August 5th, 2009, 10:28 AM
The only condition should be patient aquiescence. You must make SURE you have the patients permission to do something like this.

A person should have the choice of when THEY live or die, by whatever means, so long as it does not hurt anyone else.

The other qualifier, at least for assisted suicide, would have to be a terminal or severely debilitating condition (like the movie referenced by Metallica's "One")

Life should be the persuit of happiness, not in spite of it.

ZippyTheChimp
August 6th, 2009, 07:06 AM
The only condition should be patient aquiescence. You must make SURE you have the patients permission to do something like this.

The other qualifier, at least for assisted suicide, would have to be a terminal or severely debilitating conditionSometimes conflicting requirements, if the patient can't respond.

As medical technology advances, keeping someone "alive" becomes more commonplace.

Ninjahedge
August 6th, 2009, 10:24 AM
I know what you are saying, but there is also the soap-opera case of someone wanting to "put someone out of their misery" when they are not really all that miserable....


"I'm not dead!"

"I'm feeling much better!"

lofter1
August 6th, 2009, 10:27 AM
All the more reason to complete an advanced medical directive and limited power of attorney when one is well and able.

Execute multiple copies of the documents (and have them certified via a notary) then make certain that all current doctors and those who have been chosen to speak / act in your stead and who are named in the documents are given copies. Also, if entering a hospital have a copy of the documents placed in the patient folder (so that if the time comes no one has to scramble through your files at home).

These documents only go into effect if and when a patient is no longer able to communicate specific wishes (coma, mental incapacity).

In the case of a catastrophic illness where life support may be the normal course of action it becomes very complicated, even with these documents, for a hospital / medical team to remove a patient from the tubes / wires / meds.

But if a person makes their specific wishes clear, puts it in writing and has a strong ADVOCATE (spouse, family member, friend) to fight the bureaucracy (in recent years doctors / hospitals have gotten very lawyered-up in order to protect themselves in such situations) then it is far more likely that the end will play out in the manner that the patient has chosen.

lofter1
August 6th, 2009, 10:31 AM
Hardly a doctor / hospital these days that would withhold care under this situation, even with advanced directives in place. If the patient is communicative such directives do not go into effect.




... there is also the soap-opera case of someone wanting to "put someone out of their misery" when they are not really all that miserable....

"I'm not dead!"

"I'm feeling much better!"