Tuesday 3 February 2009

Purdy assisted suicide appeal is misguided

SPUC has been granted status as an intervenor in the case brought by Mrs Debbie Purdy (pictured) against the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who has declined to publish a prosecuting policy specific to assisted suicide. The case is being heard today by the Court of Appeal.

Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary, said:

"We have great sympathy for Mrs Purdy because of her medical condition, but her legal case is misguided and dangerous. Suicide is a course of action which everyone in society, from individuals to parliament naturally discourages. If we favour suicide for individuals who are suffering, we send a message to all those who are sick or disabled that their lives are not worthwhile."Naturally, those who are sick and disabled often feel they are a burden on others. That is a burden that society must carry willingly and with love, not an excuse for helping them express their sadness by self-destruction.

"We welcome the involvement of the DPP in this case and we commend his legal arguments. His firm resistance to this attack on the law is vital to upholding fundamental rights and freedoms of everyone.

"We are appalled by the continuing attacks on the right to life of those who are elderly or disabled or suffering from progressive degenerative disease. These attacks which would be firmly resisted by public bodies like the BBC if they were directed against young offenders, victims of abuse, or other high suicide-risk groups, are promoted by those who regard disabled people as a burden to be disposed of if the individual loses a sense of their own worth.

"The recent case brought before the GMC against Dr Iain Kerr, the Glasgow doctor to gave lethal drugs to a suicidal patient, indicates the importance of having well-enforced systems to stop doctors becoming the arbiters of life and death over vulnerable patients."