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Tony Nicklinson has won the right to have his right to die case heard before the courts. This is the result of a hearing in which the Ministry of Justice’s contention was that any such case would potentially re-write the murder laws, and that this is a matter for Parliament, rather than the courts. Mr Nicklinson has had “locked-in syndrome” since a stroke in 2005: he’s capable of communication, but little else.
What makes his case different from that of, say, Diane Pretty is that his argument rests on an appeal to necessity: his wife claims that ”the only way to relieve Tony’s suffering will be to kill him. There’s absolutely nothing else that can be done for him”. He cannot kill himself. I strongly suspect that although he has gained the right to a hearing I seriously doubt that the next step will be successful. Interestingly the case represented that a Doctor should be able to terminate his life but does it automatically follow that it must be a Doctor to hold a lethal drink for Mr Nickinson to suck through a straw. Granted a Doctor would need to prescribe the lethal cocktail.
The High Court heard Mr Nicklinson's first statement in the proceedings, in which he said his stroke "left me paralysed below the neck and unable to speak. I need help in almost every aspect of my life." "I cannot scratch if I itch, I cannot pick my nose if it is blocked and I can only eat if I am fed like a baby - only I won't grow out of it, unlike the baby. "I have no privacy or dignity left. I am washed, dressed and put to bed by carers who are, after all, still strangers. "Am I grateful that the Athens doctors saved my life? No, I am not. If I had my time again, and knew then what I know now, I would not have called the ambulance but let nature take its course."
Doesn't Mr Nickinson have a right to choose what happens to him given he is in such an appalling situation where his intellect is undimiminished but his physical body is a prison with walls that are insurmountable and only one exit available but it is a tortuous and lengthy route out which is very unlikely to have the doors flung open.