Saturday 1 November 2008

Intervener SPUC relieved at defeat of Purdy assisted suicide legal challenge

Debbie Purdy's legal challenge thankfully was rejected on Wednesday by the High Court.

SPUC was an intervener in the case, submitting written evidence to the court.

Mrs Purdy, who has multiple sclerosis and is backed by the pro-euthanasia group "Dignity in Dying", challenged the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) regarding his approach to assisted suicides by Britons at the Dignitas centre in Zurich, Switzerland. Mrs Purdy has said that she may wish to commit suicide in Switzerland and wishes to know whether her husband is likely to be prosecuted if he assists her. Assisted suicide is illegal in the UK.

Mrs Purdy is pictured above with her husband Omar, with Sarah Wootton and another representative of Dignity in Dignity standing behind them.

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, said outside the High Court:

"Firstly, we extend our compassion to Mrs Purdy and her husband and hope that instead of assisted suicide, she will receive all the palliative care and other assistance she requires. Mrs Purdy's life is worth living to its natural end. She is not better off dead.

"Secondly, we are relieved that the court has rejected the claims made by Mrs Purdy's lawyers. The underlying objective of the case, brought by the pro-euthanasia lobby, was to undermine the law on assisted suicide. The ban on assisted suicide protects the value and dignity of human life.

"The death-for-disability lobby are a lethal threat to vulnerable individuals. Allowing assisted suicide would create pressure, either real or perceived, upon the vulnerable. Allowing suicide does nothing to address the medical, psychological or other needs of the terminally-ill."

Fellow MS sufferer, SPUC member Mary Corrigan said: "MS is a terrible disease, and major depression and suicide are more common among MS people than most other groups. It is important that the court got the full picture of what this case could have lead to, and that is why SPUC intervened."

In May 2006 Parliament rejected a bill to allow assisted suicide.