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MPs must update our laws on life and death
21st August 2012
The US Declaration of Independence defines life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as among the unalienable rights of every human being. And that affirmation has provided a model for legal rights the world over. There are times, though, when this combination, which sounds so obvious and reasonable, comes sadly unstuck; when life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can seem to be at best incompatible, and at worst negate each other.
This is the distressing plight of Tony Nicklinson, whose anguished plea for help to end his life was rejected by the High Court last week. Mr Nicklinson has been paralysed from the neck down since a stroke seven years ago and he says that his life is no longer worth living. He finds himself in the ultimate catch-22 situation. He is adamant that he wants to die and his family respects his wishes. But his condition makes it impossible for him to commit suicide except by starving himself. The court, in a ruling he is likely to appeal, rejected his plea on the grounds that it would in effect legalise euthanasia, and that changing the law was a matter for Parliament.
Read the article in full at independent.co.uk