More MS news articles for Nov 2001

UK woman must wait for right-to-die ruling

LONDON, Nov 16 (Reuters) - A terminally ill woman fighting for the right for her husband to help her commit suicide must wait to hear if she has won her appeal in the House of Lords.

Diane Pretty, 42, paralysed from the neck down by advanced motor neurone disease, a fatal muscle-wasting illness, is challenging a ruling by the director of public prosecutions that her husband would not be immune from prosecution if he helped her to die.

The Law Lords, Britain's highest appeal court, ended three days of deliberations on the case on Friday. They reserved judgment but, given Pretty's declining health, are expected to give a written ruling within the next two weeks.

Brian Pretty would currently face a jail term of up to 14 years if he helped his wife commit suicide. If her appeal is successful it could end Britain's total ban on euthanasia.

The Netherlands became the first country to legalise euthanasia in April. Others are considering following suit.

Pretty, from Luton, near London, was diagnosed in 1999 with motor neurone disease. Her condition has deteriorated rapidly.

Pretty and her husband say the refusal to allow the assisted suicide infringes their human rights by subjecting her to degrading treatment and failing to respect her private life.

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Limited