Tony Nicklinson, a UK man paralyzed with “locked in syndrome,” has lost his court request to be allowed to commit suicide — which would actually be euthanasia. From the Telegraph story:
Under recent guidelines from the Director of Public Prosecutions only family members or close friends who are motivated by compassion are unlikely to be prosecuted for assisting a suicide. But Lord justice Toulson, sitting with Mr Justice Royce and Mrs Justice Macur, said that while the men’s plight was “deeply moving”, allowing them to end their lives would have implications “far beyond” their cases and exceed the power of judges. He said: “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.”
But communicating through blinks recorded on a computer afterwards Mr Nicklinson said MPs would not act to change the law because they were “cowards”. In a message on Twitter, he added: “It’s not the result I was hoping for but it isn’t entirely unexpected. “Judges, like politicians, are happiest when they can avoid confronting the real issues and this judgment is not an exception to the rule.” He added: “Although I didn’t want to raise my hopes; it happened anyway, because a fantastic amount of work went into my case and I thought that if the court saw me as I am, utterly miserable with my life, powerless to do anything about it because of my disability then the judges would accept my reasoning that I do not want to carry on and should be able to have a dignified death.”
Not totally powerless. He could refuse medical treatment that sustains his life should he become ill.
A commenter identifying himself as Nicklinson has commented — quite ably, I might add — in support of his own request to be killed. But the court is right: The request would impact far more than the individuals involved. A court fiat quasi-legalizing euthanasia — as happened in the Netherlands in 1973 — would have sent the UK on the same vertical downward spiral we see in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Nicklinson calls the decision cowardly. To the contrary: In the face of the understandable hyper-emotionalism about his case, it was principled and courageous.