TONY Nicklinson, a sufferer from locked-in syndrome (
Comment, 13 July;
Letters, 20 July,
3 August), who last week lost a High Court appeal to be allowed
to be assisted to end his life, died on Wednesday morning.
The Nicklinsons' family solicitor, Saimo Chahal, told the BBC
that Mr Nicklinson's wife, Jane, had told her "that Tony went
rapidly downhill over last weekend, having contracted pneumonia".
Mrs Nicklinson said that, after Mr Nicklinson received the draft
judgment, denying that he had the right to be assisted to die, "the
fight seemed to go out of him".
A message posted on Mr Nicklinson's Twitter account by a member
of his family said that he had died "of natural causes", aged 58.
It continued: "Before he died, he asked us to tweet: 'Goodbye world
the time has come, I had some fun.'"
On Thursday of last week, the High Court ruled in the case of Mr
Nicklinson, who was left paralysed from the neck down after a
stroke in 2005, and a second, unidentified man, who also suffers
from locked-in syndrome. Lord Justice Toulson, Mr Justice Royce,
and Mrs Justice Macur ruled that the court should not depart from
the traditional legal position that "voluntary euthanasia is
murder, however understandable the motives may be".
The Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Mike Hill, wrote on his blog
last Friday that the High Court "was surely right not to allow Tony
Nicklinson the right to die with the assistance of a doctor. . . It
is reported that many vulnerable and elderly people suffer abuse
daily at the hands of their relatives. . . A very real question is
whether any change in the law to facilitate assisted dying would
make such people even more vulnerable to pressure from others to
end their lives."
In a statement to the High Court, Mr Nicklinson had said: "By
all means protect the vulnerable. By vulnerable, I mean those who
cannot make decisions for themselves - just don't include me. I am
not vulnerable. I don't need help or protection from death or those
who would help me. If the legal consequences were not so huge, i.e.
life imprisonment, perhaps I could get someone to help me."
The Revd Michael Wenham (
Features, 17 October 2008), a retired Anglican priest who has
primary lateral sclerosis, a motor neurone disorder, wrote on his
blog last Friday: "Primarily, it's good that a precedent to
legalise killing has been resisted. Dress it up how you will, in
whatever humanitarian, compassionate terms, deliberately to end
life is killing. . . Since English law is case-law, one ruling in
favour of assisted suicide would open the door for others - with
all the adverse implications for the disabled, senile and
terminally ill that could usher in."
Muslim patient. The Court of Protection heard
the case this week of the family of a 55-year-old Muslim man, known
as "L", who has severe brain damage. Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS
Trust has applied for a court declaration that it is not in the
man's interests to resuscitate him if his condition worsens. The
man's family want doctors to do everything they can to keep him
alive. As Church Times went to press, the hearing was