Woman With MS Loses Legal Battle on Assisted Suicide

A woman suffering from multiple sclerosis today lost her landmark legal bid to clarify the law on assisted suicide.

Two senior High Court judges rejected Debbie Purdy's application for a ruling to force the Director of Public Prosecutions to offer further guidance — essentially, spelling out whether her husband would face criminal charges if he escorted her to a clinic abroad where she could die.

Her lawyers argued that the DPP was in breach of her Article 8 right to respect for her private and family life under the European Convention on Human Rights because of his failure to make the law clear.

But today, Lord Justice Scott Baker and Justice Aikens ruled at London’s High Court that her human rights had not been infringed.

“We cannot leave this case without expressing great sympathy for Purdy, her husband and others in a similar position who wish to know in advance whether they will face prosecution for doing what many would regard as something that the law should permit, namely to help a loved one go abroad to end their suffering when they are unable to do it on their own," Lord Justice Scott Baker said.

“This would involve a change in the law. The offense of assisted suicide is very widely drawn to cover all manner of different circumstances; only Parliament can change it.”

Ms Purdy, 45, had primary progressive MS diagnosed in 1995 and now lives in a specially adapted home in Bradford, West Yorkshire, confined to a wheelchair. She plans to choose her moment to die but wants to know whether her husband, the Cuban jazz violinist Omar Puente, will be prosecuted if he helps her to travel to a clinic in Belgium or Zurich, Switzerland, to commit suicide if her condition becomes unbearably painful.

Click here to read more on this story from the Times of London.