The latest round in the fight for a right to die has seen the courts take back control.
Assisted dying is prohibited by the Suicide Act 1961. In March, the High Court considered Neil Conway’s request for a judicial review, basically declaring that the Suicide Act is incompatible with human rights legislation.
Mr Conway is terminally ill with motor neurone disease and wishes to die at a time and place of his choosing.
“I am fighting for choice and control over my death, because the current ban on assisted dying denies me these rights and forces me to face an unacceptable set of options that most people would balk at in disbelief,” he told the court.
The High Court judges had sympathy with Mr Conway and his family, and praised his selfless actions in bringing the case to court. However, they felt it was not their place to make a decision which they felt was for government, saying it was ‘institutionally inappropriate’ for judges to rule.
Now the Court of Appeal has overturned this ruling.
Parliament discussed assisted dying during 2015 and failed to change the law. In their judgment, Lord Justices McFarlane and Beatson said: “We consider that, in the context of considering permission for judicial review, the fact that … parliament has made a decision not to change the law and the matter is no longer under active consideration means that Mr Conway should be entitled to argue that it is no longer institutionally inappropriate for the court to consider [Mr Conway’s application].”
Mr Conway has therefore been allowed to pursue his case, a challenge to the blanket ban on assisted dying.
“It is arguable that the evidence demonstrates that a mechanism of assisted dying can be devised for those in Mr Conway’s narrowly defined group that is practical”
Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, said:
“ The current law simply does not work for dying people or their families.”
For the full judgement, click here