More MS news articles for Oct 2001

British Woman Loses Right to Die in Landmark Case

LONDON (Reuters Health) Oct 18 - A terminally ill British woman lost a landmark court battle on Thursday to "die with dignity" but promptly said she would appeal the ruling that is a major blow for supporters of euthanasia.

Diane Pretty, 42, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1999, had wanted her husband Brian to be immune from prosecution if he helped her commit suicide.

"She wants to fight so she wants to take it further. I think she will be going to the House of Lords. She...told me this minute," Brian said outside court, translating for his wife who can barely speak but was at his side in a wheelchair.

In a test case that underscores Britain's long-standing legal block on euthanasia, three High Court judges dismissed Pretty's case and denied her permission to appeal their ruling except to the House of Lords.

"Having regard to the fact that we have said that the conclusion we have reached is inescapable, we do not think it appropriate to give permission to appeal," Lord Justice Simon Tuckey said.

The Prettys claimed the refusal infringed their human rights by subjecting Diane to degrading treatment and by failing to respect her private life.

But Lord Justice Tuckey said her human right was "to live with dignity, not die with dignity."

The wheelchair-bound mother of two is paralysed from the neck down and is too disabled to kill herself. Helping a person commit suicide carries a maximum 14-year jail term.

Her disease is now at an advanced stage with Mrs. Pretty unable to speak and having to be fed through a tube. Her intellect and decision-making capacity are unimpaired.

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Ltd