Euthanasia case can proceed: UK court

A British judge ruled that a severely disabled man who wants to end his "intolerable" life should be allowed to do so.

London: A British judge ruled Monday that the case of a severely disabled man who wants to end his "intolerable" life should be allowed to proceed.

Tony Nicklinson, 57, suffered a paralyzing stroke in 2005 that left him unable to speak or move below his neck and in need of constant care. He communicates largely by blinking. In January, he asked the High Court to declare that any doctor who gives him a lethal injection with his consent won`t be charged with murder.

The ministry of justice argued that granting Nicklinson`s request would require changing the law on murder and that such changes must be made by Parliament. The government had applied to have the case dismissed.

Nicklinson`s wife, Jane, said the only way to end her husband`s suffering was to kill him.

"A life like this is unbearable for him," she said. "We know there are doctors out there that would do this if it is made legal."

Nicklinson argued that British law hindered his right to "private and family life" — guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights — on the grounds that being able to choose how to die is a matter of personal autonomy.

A recent British commission headed by a former justice secretary concluded there was a strong case for allowing assisted suicide under strict criteria. The commission was set up and funded by advocates who want the current law changed. The report did not support euthanasia and recommended assisted suicide only be allowed for terminally ill people, which would exclude Nicklinson.

In 2009, the British government`s top prosecutor said people who helped terminally ill relatives and friends die were unlikely to be charged if they acted out of compassion.

In Europe, only Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland allow euthanasia.

Bureau Report