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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Disability group comments on assisted suicide case

11 June 2008

Disability group comments on assisted suicide case London, 11 June 2008 - A group representing people disabled people, their families and carers has commented on today's High Court decision in the case of Debbie Purdy.

Debbie Purdy, a lady with multiple sclerosis, is asking the legal authorities to clarify the law on assisted suicide.

Mrs Purdy wants to know if her husband will be liable to prosecution if he helps her to travel to Switzerland and commit suicide at Dignitas in Zurich.

The High Court in London today granted Mrs Purdy a full judicidial review hearing at a later date.

Alison Davis, co-ordinator of No Less Human, said: "Allowing assisted suicide or weakening the law against it would compromise the protection from harm every vulnerable person deserves. The assumption that dying and incurably disabled people are, in effect, right to want to die and better off dead would be confirmed. It will make all vulnerable people even more vulnerable to a form of fatal discrimination. It will divert resources from the hospice movement, which aims to achieve peaceful deaths for all, to providing deliberate killing as a solution to the challenges illness and disability pose. There is no legal or moral right for anyone to commit suicide. Ms Davis continued: "I understand completely the despair and blackness which causes some disabled and ill people to feel suicidal, because I once felt the same. I have spina bifida and several other painful disabling conditions. I use a wheelchair full time, and am getting progressively weaker. For ten years I wanted to die and I made several serious attempts to kill myself. My friends, however, helped me to re-establish a sense of my own infinite human value, a value which isn't diminished by being severely disabled and having to depend on others. I am now grateful that assisted suicide remains illegal."

No Less Human, a division of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), exists to promote the equal status, worth and rights of disabled people, including the most fundamental right of all - the right to life, from conception to natural death.

No Less Human and SPUC have been at the forefront of the campaign against euthanasia and assisted suicide in the UK. SPUC is also a member of the Care Not Killing Alliance, which helped defeat Lord Joffe's assisted suicide bill.


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