Tony Nicklinson and the Right to Die
Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 22nd August, 2012
The death of the Right to Die campaigner and Locked-in Syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson triggers mixed emotions of sadness, anger and relief. Sadness because his last few days were not peaceful ones, following the refusal by the Courts to allow him to die as he wished. The anguish on his face as he cried following that verdict, his valiant wife standing helplessly by his side, is unforgettable to me. Anger because the law in this case is an ass. I imagine the judges involved in reviewing Mr Nicklinson’s case were deeply sympathetic to his plight, but they know — and said — that the law can only be changed by Parliament. And MPs have so far resisted biting the bullet on this one, which does make me angry. Relief, of course, that now his suffering is over. But his life could have ended far more humanely. The Nicklinson case highlights a huge moral dilemma, of course. And a number of religious figures and people of faith have spoken up saying it is always wrong to take or assist the taking of human life; “care not killing” was a phrase that was bandied about. I do not condone murder, of course, nor involuntary euthanasia. And it is vital that any legislative change that would enable voluntary euthanasia in highly controlled circumstances, at the unequivocal request of the person concerned, as in Tony Nicklinson’s case, must be stringent in its provisions. The last thing we want to see is sick or elderly people being pressured into terminating their lives. But there are clear cases of people with degenerative or other incurable diseases for whom simply living is pure hell and they should be granted the possibility of release from their suffering. Hospices are wonderful for many terminally ill patients but they are not perfect for all. This is all about is compassion in my book, and I say that as both a Quaker and as a Liberal Democrat; both my religious and political principles underpin my attitude in this matter. Now one can only thank Mr Nicklinson’s widow for her loving support and express one’s deeepest sympathy to her, her husband’s family and their friends.