Tony Nicklinson wants doctors to be allowed to kill disabled people. The High Court's decision that the case can proceed is very frightening indeed for them. However sympathetic one might be to Mr. Nicklinson, his is a very rare condition. Hard cases do make bad law. The media, especially the BBC, repeatedly show us the same very few sufferers who want the law changed, but in fact the overwhelming majority of disabled people are opposed to any lessening of the law which at present protects them.
Mr. Nicklinson's demands go further than those at present made by Lord Falconer's discredited "commission", or by Dignity in Dying, though before they changed their name from the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, Dignity in Dying promoted similar and even more extreme ideas. He is not terminally ill, nor able to commit suicide even with help. It is not the Suicide Act 1961 but the Murder Act 1965 which he wishes to subvert.
It is difficult to see how the common law defence of "necessity", which is sometimes applicable if killing one person is the only way to save another, can be thought to apply. One possible parallel is the case of the conjoined twins, one of whom was deliberately killed to allow the other to live. The ProLife Alliance pointed out at the time that once the principle that it can never be right for a doctor (or anyone else) deliberately to take an innocent life, even with an apparently good motive, the door is open to further abuses.
His claim that he is bringing a court action because Parliament will not discuss the matter is simply inaccurate. Euthanasia in various forms has been exhaustively discussed by politicians, who have clearly seen the dangers and voted against weakening the law.
Mr. Nicklinson describes his life as "dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable" but he does not wish to die immediately.
Others who are just as disabled take a less pessimistic view and are glad to be living even in difficult circumstances.
We must hope that when the case is tried, the courts will continue to protect the vulnerable. The Daily Telegraph are carrying out a poll on assisted dying. Please can we urge readers to vote in favour of life and the protection of the disabled.