Tony Nicklinson case rejected

Although of course everyone has enormous sympathy for Tony Nicklinson's predicament, the court's decision not to allow doctors to kill patients is right.  It will be a relief for thousands of handicapped, chronically ill, or very elderly: their lives will continue to be protected by the law.

The very small number of disabled who want the law changed have been given wide publicity.  The dangers to those who could so easily be persuaded to want to end their lives are clearly shown by reports on abuse of the elderly in our country.  Not everyone is as able as Tony to resist pressure.  Not everyone has such a loving devoted family.

Groups run by disabled people, not only in the UK but worldwide, are overwhelmingly against any weakening in the laws against all forms of euthanasia.  You would not know this from emotive media coverage.  Nor would you know that the handicapped, even those in as severe a condition as Tony, can be as happy as anybody else. There are many upbeat stories of people with locked-in syndrome, such as Marini McNeilly composing and conducting music, or Bram Harrison who is a DJ, or Martin Pistorius who was wrongly thought to be unconscious for ten years and now runs a computer company from his wheelchair.

Hard cases make bad law.  As the judges said, these matters are for Parliament to decide.  The House of Lords and the Scottish Parliament have in recent years decisively rejected calls for a change in the law.

Nothing should blur the clear line that stops a doctor from deliberately killing a patient. It is a vital protection for the vulnerable.