Today marks the tenth anniversary of the death of assisted dying campaigner Tony Nicklinson. Tony fought valiantly for his right to die on his own terms. My Death, My Decision are saddened that no positive change has happened in England and Wales since Tony’s death.
In 2005 Tony suffered a catastrophic stroke which left him with locked-in syndrome. He was paralysed from the neck down and unable to speak. He could only communicate via blinking, and described his life as a ‘living nightmare’.
Tony brought a legal case to the High Court to allow doctors to end his life. Tony lost his case, as the High Court ruled ‘It is not for the court to decide whether the law about assisted dying should be changed… these are matters for Parliament to decide.’
When he lost his court case, Tony said, ‘I am saddened that the law wants to condemn me to a life of increasing indignity and misery.’ Tony contracted pneumonia and died on the 22nd of August 2012 after refusing food and treatment.
Today, Tony’s daughter, Lauren Nicklinson, said:
‘The last ten years should have allowed politicians to drive change and give people who are incurably suffering the dignified end they may choose. Yet nothing has changed. We don’t want dad’s suffering to be forgotten; the last seven years of his life were a living nightmare for him, and the thought of what he went through would be more bearable if we can attach some meaning to his suffering.
So please don’t forget about Tony Nicklinson and all that he stood for – autonomy, bravery, passion and determination – and help us secure the change in the law that would have given him the death he deserved’
Trevor Moore, Chair of My Death, My Decision said:
Ten years on from brave Tony’s Nicklinson’s death, his ambition of a compassionate assisted dying law for this country has yet to be achieved. He demanded that someone who was not terminally ill, but suffering unbearably from an incurable condition, should be able to call on help to die. The Supreme Court told him it was for Parliament to decide.
But so far our politicians have ignored overwhelming public opinion – and, increasingly, that of health practitioners – in support of a law. They do not seem to realise that they are protracting unnecessary suffering. That is why we call on the Justice Secretary to set up a Parliamentary inquiry into assisted dying as soon as possible. Only then can decision-makers hear and test the evidence for and against – especially from those countries like Australia, Canada and New Zealand that already have a law. After ten years, we owe it to Tony’s family to carry forward his powerful legacy and end this grave social injustice.