Thinking Anglicans

Supreme Court judgment on right to die

Updated Friday

The UK Supreme Court yesterday handed down its judgment in the assisted suicide (or “right to die”) case. The full judgment and summaries are available online.

Judgment (PDF)
Judgment (html)
Press summary (PDF)
Watch Lord Neuberger’s summary of the judgment on YouTube

Newspaper and other reports include:

Rosalind English UK Human Rights Blog Supreme Court rejects right to die appeals
John Bingham The Telegraph Supreme Court rejects right to die bid but challenges Parliament to review law
Owen Boycott The Guardian Assisted suicide campaigners fail to get supreme court to overturn ban
BBC News Campaigners lose ‘right to die’ case
Kathleen Hall The Law Society Gazette Supreme Court dismisses ‘right to die’ appeal
Brian Farmer The Independent Right-to-die: Supreme Court rules against assisted suicide

The Church of England has issued this statement.

Statement on Supreme Court judgement
25 June 2014
In response to ruling on the cases of Paul Lamb and Jane Nicklinson, and ‘Martin’

Revd Dr Brendan McCarthy, National Adviser: Medical Ethics and Health and Social Care Policy for the Archbishops’ Council, said:

“We welcome the judgment of the Supreme Court and the emphasis it has placed on the need for the law to protect vulnerable individuals.

“We remain convinced that the current law and the DPP guidelines for its application provide a compassionate framework within which difficult cases can be assessed while continuing to ensure that many vulnerable individuals are given much needed protection from coercion or abuse.

“We recognise the distress that this judgment will cause some individuals but we believe that any other judgment would have resulted in even greater distress for even greater numbers of people.”

Reactions from church groups and others include:

Press Association Reactions to right-to-die ruling
Dan Bergin Independent Catholic News Campaigners welcome court judgements on assisted suicide
Alex Stevenson politics.co.uk Right-to-die campaigners are wasting their time
Editorial in The Guardian The Guardian view on parliament and assisted suicide

Update
The Church Times has a report on the judgement from its legal correspondent Shiranikha Herbert: Judges not persuaded by ‘right to die’ appellants.

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Gary Paul GilbertJCFJeremy PembertonJames ByronLaurence Cunnington Recent comment authors
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Laurence Cunnington
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Laurence Cunnington

Get out the bunting – I think I might actually agree with a CofE statement. I know many on TA will disagree with me but I still believe that, 20 years down the line, there would be doctoral theses to write on (a) why the level of assisted suicides was several times the national average in certain geographical areas of England (I could probably name two of them now) and (b) the direct correlation between the likelihood of a person dying by assisted suicide and the value of their estate.

James Byron
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James Byron

I certainly don’t agree.

Keeping people alive, against their will, in excruciating pain, is the most egregious example of religious beliefs being imposed on society at large. All the concerns about coercion apply equally to the current situation, where the alleged hordes of murderous doctors and relatives are free to do the dastardly deed in secret.

Along with drug prohibition, a ban on assisted suicide and euthanasia is the last remnant of Christendom. Soon may it fall.

Jeremy Pemberton
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Jeremy Pemberton

James writes: “Keeping people alive, against their will, in excruciating pain, is the most egregious example of religious beliefs being imposed on society at large.” It is not only religious people who are not convinced about assisted suicide. But, be that as it may, the point I really want to make is that what James describes is a far cry from the reality of most people’s end of life. I don’t know how much experience he has of seeing people die, but I have a lot of it – and I know how much care is taken to alleviate pain… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

As an Ignorant Yank, I’m not weighing in on the legality&justice of this decision.

But this?

“the direct correlation between the likelihood of a person dying by assisted suicide and the value of their estate.”

Strange, I would think it would be rather the opposite.

Gary Paul Gilbert
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Gary Paul Gilbert

Once suicide in England was decriminalized, it would seem logical that assisted suicide, within certain constraints, would be approved. It is silly that people desiring to end their lives should have to travel to Switzerland. I see this slowness as a vestige of the worst features of religion.

Gary Paul Gilbert