A severely paralysed man campaigning for a doctor to be permitted to lawfully end his life has won the right for his case to be heard. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed the ruling by the court, describing it as “important opportunity for a complex case to be fairly and properly considered”.

The High Court has today ruled that Tony Nicklinson has ‘established an arguable case’ with reference to two declarations he is seeking; firstly, that it would not be unlawful on the grounds of necessity for a physician to terminate or assist in the termination of his life, and secondly, “a declaration that the current law of murder and/or of assisted suicide is incompatible with Mr Nicklinson’s right to respect for private life under Article 8, contrary to sections 1 and 6 Human Rights Act 1998”.

The case will now proceed, although Mr Justice Charles struck out Mr Nicklinson’s request to seek a third declaration that domestic law fails “adequately to regulate the practice of active euthanasia (both voluntary and involuntary)”, and that this failure was in breach of Article 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998.

BHA Head of Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal commented: “We strongly believe Mr Nicklinson’s case should be heard. The BHA has consistently defended the rights of all individuals to make decisions about their own lives so long as they are fully informed and do not result in harm to others. At present, the law does not ensure these basic principles of autonomy are respected for those who find their lives unbearable and wish to end them, but cannot do so because they are physically incapacitated.

“We will continue to call for an ethical and humane law on assisted dying that would protect the vulnerable, but also allow mentally competent adults the right to die with dignity in a time and manner of their own choosing.”

Notes

Read the full ruling here http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Judgments/nicklinson-v-moj.pdf

Read more about the BHA’s work on assisted dying http://www.humanism.org.uk/campaigns/ethical-issues/assisted-dying

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