New Legal Challenge on Assisted Dying

Today a new legal case to challenge the law on assisted dying is seeking financial backing. Please can you help!

The law firm Bindmans are representing ‘Omid’ who was diagnosed with the incurable illness, Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), in 2014. He is now largely confined to bed, has to wear a catheter bag and needs help with all personal care. He has difficulty speaking, and has lost much control in his arms and hands – making him unable to attempt suicide unaided. (A previous attempt failed.)

Omid is not terminally ill, in the sense of having a life expectancy of 6 months or less. For MDMD this is an important distinction as we do not believe the 6 month criterion can be anything more than a first step in our campaign. MDMD encourage supporters to help fund this action by Omid. We note that another legal case being brought by Noel Conway is limited to helping those with a life expectancy of six months or less – something doctors say they cannot accurately predict. Omid’s case is much more representative of MDMD’s objectives.

The Bindmans legal team are experienced as they also worked on the cases of Tony Nicklinson and Debbie Purdy. The last case ended in 2014 . In that case Lord Neuberger said “There seems to me to be significantly more justification in assisting people to die if they have the prospect of living for many years a life that they regarded as valueless, miserable and often painful, than if they have only a few months left to live“. (Lord Neuberger is President of the Supreme Court, the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases, and for criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.) MDMD strongly agree with his opinion that assisted dying should not be restricted on a life expectancy basis.

The BBC reported the outcome of the 2014 case saying:

The Supreme Court … right-to-die judgement boils down to a single phrase directed at Parliament: Sort it out, or we will.

“It argues that MPs have ducked the issue for too long – and it is time they, as our democratically-elected representatives, find the political backbone to amend the law on assisted suicide.

In 2015 the House of Commons failed to do so. We await with interest the outcome of this case. The issue will not go away until people like Omid are allowed a peaceful, medically assisted death if that is their persistent, well-considered wish. Why should people be forced to continue a life suffering against their will, (often having to pay for their own care), and be denied access to the drugs which can give them the good death they crave?

If social and medical care is serious about being “patient-centred” they need to be legally able to give people like Omid the end of life help they so desperately want. For example, NICE, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, state in their guidelines to improve care for people at the end of life:

“… put the dying person at the heart of decisions about their care, so that they can be supported in their final days in accordance with their wishes.”

Omid’s wishes can not be put at the heart of decisions about his care, with the law as it is at present. MDMD wishes him every success in his legal challenge to allow what to him is a good death.