Locked-in syndrome widow to keep fighting for suicide

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THE widow of locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson was today set to tell a conference in Edinburgh how she was determined to carry on fighting in the courts over the right for doctor-assisted suicide.

Mr Nicklinson, 47, who was paralysed by a stroke in 2005, died in August just days after three High Court judges in England ruled they did not have the power to grant his request for a doctor to be allowed to give him a lethal dose of painkillers.

At today’s conference on assisted suicide organised by Independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald, Jane Nicklinson was expected to say: “Tony was only asking for the same rights that the vast majority of the public have, the right to take his life at the time and place of his choosing. This right was denied him because of his disabilities and in our opinion this was a breach of his human rights.”

She was to say she felt so passionately about the issue that she was determined to carry on the court battle even after her husband’s death.

“The High Courts have refused me permission to continue with the case and also for us to appeal their decision on the ruling. We now go to the Court of Appeals and hope that they will see that we have a case that needs to be ­addressed.

“We will continue for as long as we are able. I am sure that Tony would have wanted this and I hope that I can do him proud.”

Mrs Nicklinson was also set to speak of the “seven years of torture” her husband endured.

“Tony had no dignity left. His every need had to be carried out for him. He found the daily routine of carers coming in to wash, dress, shave, toilet and exercise him more than he could bear. He told me that he used to dread the door opening and the carers walking in.”

Also due to speak at the conference, Ludwig Minelli, founder of the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland, was to argue the option of assisted suicide often gave severely ill people the security to carry on living.

“They are usually not looking for a hastened death,” he was to say. “But they are looking for an alternative to their painful life. As soon as they are informed by Dignitas a Swiss physician has agreed in principle to write a prescription for a lethal medication for them, they feel relieved.”

Ms MacDonald is currently drafting a bill to bring before the Scottish Parliament which would allow people with a terminal illness or condition who find life intolerable to request assistance to end it.