06:00, October 05 73 0 theguardian.com

2017-10-05 06:00:04
'Entombed' man loses high court fight to end his life

A man who fears being entombed in his own body as it suffers the effects of motor neurone disease has lost his high court fight to enable doctors to help him to end his own life.

Three judges ruled against Noel Conway, a 67-year-old retired lecturer, who argued that the law on assisted dying should be changed to allow him a “peaceful and dignified” death.

Conway began his legal “fight for choice at the end of life” after being diagnosed with the condition in November 2014. He is unlikely to live beyond the next 12 months and wanted to be given the right to decide when he died.

He had said he wanted to say goodbye to his family and friends “at the right time, not to be in a zombie-like condition and suffering both physically and psychologically”.

The decision, he argued, could be taken once he had less than six months to live and while he still had the mental capacity, and he wanted to be able to call upon the help of the medical profession.

The law forbids doctors giving him such help and doing so is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Conway, who did not attend Thursday’s hearing because of his ill health, argued the Suicide Act 1961 was not compatible with his rights to a private and family and to protection from discrimination, as provided by the European convention on human rights.

His case was supported by Humanists UK and opposed by the secretary of state for justice, with the backing of Care Not Killing and Not Dead Yet UK, who also made submissions.

The British Medical Association has previously expressed its opposition to physician-assisted dying, saying it risked putting “vulnerable people at risk of harm” and would be “contrary to the ethics of clinical practice”.