British Woman Takes Her Assisted Suicide-Pain Control Case Court

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 13, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Woman Takes Her Assisted Suicide-Pain Control Case Court Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 13
, 2007

London, England ( — A British woman is taking her case to get significant pain control to England’s top court. The case involves a woman with a heart and lung condition who says she wants high doses of morphine from her doctors that could result in her death.

Kelly Taylor suffers from Eisenmenger’s syndrome, which is causing her tremendous pain and her physicians are concerned about giving her enough pain medication to assist her without causing her to die.

Her attorneys argue that the doctors have an obligation to provide her with the pain relief even if it could kill her. They’ve taken her case to the Family Division of the High Court.

The physicians respond that they have been unable to find a drug to regulate Taylor’s pain because she is allergic to many of the treatments.

Both assisted suicide and euthanasia are illegal in England and the case is seen as a landmark one regarding when physicians should give a patient treatment that could result in their death.

Taylor, who has been given less than a year to live, says the doctors are breaching her rights and she wants the high doses of morphine. Though some patients needed high pain relief may not want to die, Taylor is hoping the treatment will put her into a coma.

Should the drugs not do that, Taylor hopes they will incapacitate her enough to have her living will go into effect, which would instruct physicians to refuse to give her food and water.

"I have had enough of life — well, I don’t know whether I have had enough of life but I have had enough of my illness," Taylor told the Evening Standard newspaper. "I’m just hanging on. I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to suffer any more."

Taylor said she is not depressed but doesn’t want to suffer through what doctors say is the last year of her life.

However, Taylor tried to take her life five years ago in a drug overdose and starved herself for 19 days in 2005 but gave up because it was painful.

She eventually became a member of Dignitas, the Switzerland-based pro-euthanasia group that has arranged hundreds of assisted suicides. She said she was too ill to go to mainland Europe and kill herself.

"I got to the stage of trying to find out about plane tickets and so on, but then I became too ill to travel by plane," she told the newspaper, adding she didn’t want her husband investigated for her death.

A full hearing on the case will take place next month and Taylor’s attorneys are expected to bring up the European Convention on Human Rights which bans "inhuman or degrading treatment" to argue she should not be refused the morphine.