High Court thankfully again upholds law against Assisted Suicide

On October 5 the High Court gave the decision in Noel Conway’s case for judicial review of the UK’s ban on assisted suicide, which was heard in July. Dignity in Dying and Humanists UK intervened on Conway’s behalf, and Care Not Killing (of which the Pro Life Alliance is a member) and the disability rights group Not Dead Yet intervened in favour of the current law.
Under Section 2 of of the 1961 Suicide Act a person commits an offence if he or she does something capable of encouraging or assisting the suicide or attempted suicide of another person, if this was intended to encourage or assist suicide or an attempt at suicide.
The High Court rejected Conway’s argument that this was incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to private life).
The judges ruled that “It is legitimate in this area for the legislature to seek to lay down clear and defensible standards in order to provide guidance for society, to avoid distressing and difficult disputes at the end of life and to avoid creating a slippery slope leading to incremental expansion over time of the categories of people to whom similar assistance for suicide might have to be provided… we find that Section 2 is compatible with the Article 8 rights of Mr Conway.”
They said that although Counsel for Mr. Conway had “suggested that many doctors already actively assist their patients who wish to commit suicide to do so… On the evidence before us, we do not accept this. Baroness Finlay cited a 2009 research paper which found no instances of physician assisted suicide which had occurred in practice in this country and concluded that in Britain euthanasia and physician assisted suicide “are rare or non-existent”.”
The Court also accepted medical evidence that is it is not possible accurately to predict that a patient will die within six months.
This was an excellent clear decision about the principle that a doctor should never be allowed to assist a patient’s suicide. The law is working well. A change would be unnecessary, unsafe , and (as we see from foreign countries) uncontrollable.
The response to suffering should not be the negative quick fix of death, but continuing to improve the best palliative and social care for the disabled, very elderly , and terminally ill.