Court decision sparks euthanasia concern

A high court decision to let a multiple sclerosis sufferer review the law on assisted suicide could be a move towards legal euthanasia.

Multiple sclerosis sufferer Debbie Purdy is confined to a wheelchair and is worried that her condition will eventually become unbearable.

If and when it does, she plans to end her life by travelling with her husband to Switzerland where euthanasia is legal.

She has asked the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in England and Wales, Sir Ken MacDonald, to confirm that her husband will not be prosecuted on his return to the UK for helping her commit suicide.

But the DPP says that he cannot promise her husband immunity from the law and has resisted pressure to publish an official policy on the issue.

High Court judges have now granted her the right to launch a judicial review of the DPP’s decision, “without wishing to give Ms Purdy any optimism that her arguments will ultimately succeed”.

Disability rights groups are concerned that the case sends out the message that incurably disabled people are “better off dead”.

Alison Davis, the national co-ordinator of No Less Human, a disability group, said: “Allowing assisted suicide or weakening the law against it would compromise the protection from harm every vulnerable person deserves.

“The assumption that dying and incurably disabled people are, in effect, right to want to die and better off dead would be confirmed.”