European Court Rejects Lawsuit to Overturn Britain’s Ban on Assisted Suicide

International   |   Sarah Zagorski   |   Jul 22, 2015   |   10:00AM   |   Washington, DC

In the United Kingdom, “right-to-die” activists are upset that their bid to overturn the country’s ban on assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia was unsuccessful.

As LifeNews previously reported, the UK’s 1961 Suicide Act makes it illegal to encourage or assist in a suicide or suicide attempt in England and Wales. However, a paralyzed man named Paul Lamb was trying to change the law with Tony Nickinson, a gentleman who had locked-in syndrome and passed away three years ago.

According to Christianity Today, in the European Court’s written judgment they said, “In the decision in the case of Nicklinson and Lamb v the United Kingdom the European Court of Human Rights has unanimously declared the applications inadmissible. The decision is final.”

After the decision was made, Nicklinson’s daughter Lauren said on Twitter: “Assisted suicide is an issues that’ll become more pressing everyday. It didn’t die with dad & it won’t be forgotten now our campaign is over.” Additionally, she explained that she believes it’s a travesty that people from the UK have to travel to Switzerland to access assisted suicide.

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Of course the British Humanist Association, a pro-euthanasia group, lamented over the decision as well.

They said, “We are disappointed by today’s decision which simply passes the buck back to the UK courts and Parliament but in the meantime it cruelly leaves those who are terminally ill or incurably suffering and have a settled wish to end their lives in a dignified manner unable to seek assistance to do so and instead forced to continue their lives in pain.”

In 2014, the story of Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old terminally ill cancer-patient who legally committed suicide, reignited the assisted suicide debate in the United States. Pro-lifers are adamantly against “right to die” legislation, regardless of circumstance because of the dangers it presents for vulnerable communities such as the elderly, disabled and mentally ill. Under this type of legislation, those with mental illness and depression can qualify for lethal prescriptions, as could those who could live indefinitely with basic treatments.

For example, under Oregon’s assisted suicide provision, the most recent official state report shows in the footnotes that a diabetic, persons with respiratory diseases, a person with viral hepatitis, and persons with HIV all obtained lethal prescriptions. These people are a far cry from those we envision as “terminally ill.”

Ann Cupolo Freeman, a board member of the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, explained some of the effects assisted suicide legislation could have on the disabled community. She said, “No assisted-suicide ‘safeguard’ can ever protect against coercion. In this era of managed care, will those living with a disability and the seriously ill be more likely offered lethal prescriptions in place of medical treatment? A prescription for 100 Seconal tablets costs far less than most medical treatments, especially considering the cost of long-term care for someone living with a disability.”