Two severely disabled victims of locked-in syndrome have protested angrily that British judges are leaving them to undignified and increasingly distressing lives after they lost a landmark High Court battle to be allowed to die with medical help.
Tony Nicklinson, 58, who had sought to end his ”dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable” life after he was left paralysed below the neck by a stroke seven years ago, wept uncontrollably after the judgment and said it meant his anguish would continue.
As he and his wife announced they would appeal, Mr Nicklinson, via a computer, said: ”I believe the legal team are prepared to go all the way, but it means yet another period of physical discomfort and mental anguish for me.”
In upsetting scenes following the judgment Mr Nicklinson’s wife, Jane, stood by her husband at their home in Melksham as he shook with sobs. She described the judgment as one-sided and disappointing.
”All the points that we put forward have just really been ignored, it seems. You can see from Tony’s reaction he’s absolutely heartbroken. We always knew it was a big ask but we hoped the judges would see sense, but clearly they haven’t.”
Another locked-in syndrome sufferer, who can only be named as Martin, had sought permission for volunteers to help him get to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland. ”I wish to be able to exercise the freedom which everyone else would have – to decide how to end this constant tortuous situation,” Martin said in a statement issued by his lawyers.
In a serious blow to pro-euthanasia campaigners in Britain, judges said that while the cases were deeply moving and deserved the most careful and sympathetic consideration, the questions they raised were too significant to be decided in a court, and could only be answered by Parliament.
Lord Justice Toulson said that allowing the two men to be helped to end their lives would have implications far beyond their cases, and a ruling, in Mr Nicklinson’s case in particular, would have amounted to a major change in murder laws, which exceeded the powers of the courts.
”It is not for the court to decide whether the law about assisted dying should be changed and, if so, what safeguards should be put in place,” he said.
Mr. Nicklinson had sought assurance that it would not be unlawful for a doctor to assist him to die.
– The Guardian