More MS news articles for September 2002

Right-to-die petition handed to Downing Street

Sep 23 2002

Diane Pretty's widower has presented a 50,000-strong petition at Downing Street in support of the right to commit assisted suicide.

Brian Pretty says his wife would have been "100% behind" the petition, which calls for the right for terminally ill people to seek medical help to die.

The motor neurone disease sufferer died aged 43, in May after losing a lengthy legal battle to allow her husband to help her take her life.

Speaking outside Downing Street, Mr Pretty, from Luton, said: "We are calling for Tony Blair to listen to the people who are asking for a change in the law. Diane would be 100% behind this as she was from the start."

Mr Pretty, 46, was heading a group of four terminally ill people in handing over the petition which includes 40,000 signatures and a further 10,000 names collected over the internet.

The Voluntary Euthanasia Society claims it is the largest on-line petition ever handed in to the Prime Minister.

Today's campaigners were John Howard, 48, from Worthing, West Sussex, who has motor neurone disease, Steve Barksby, 51, from Manchester, who has Aids, Lisa Cook, 34, from Huddersfield, who has the gene which causes Huntington's disease and Jane MacDonald, 53, from North London, who has cancer and multiple sclerosis.

Mrs Cook, a mother-of-one, said: "I have seen many of my family members suffer a long and slow decline and I live every day with that knowledge that this is my future.

"I cannot change my genes but I do want to do something about the amount of suffering that my family and I have to endure and I want the law to be changed to allow medically-assisted deaths."

Mr Barksby, a former legal accountant, who is now unemployed, said: "I want to have the choice of when to die."

© Copyright 2002, Trinity Mirror Plc