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House of Lords Creates Right to Die in English Law

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Issued by Christian Concern for Our Nation
Press Release
For Immediate Release
30 July 2009

House of Lords Creates Right to Die in English Law

In a landmark decision the House of Lords today created a right to die in English Law. This is a further departure from the Christian principle that ensured in the past the protection of the vulnerable.

The House of Lords ruled that a woman’s right to decide when to end her life was protected in law. It went on to order the Director of Public Prosecutions to publish guidelines on when he will prosecute a person who assists in the suicide of another.

Debbie Purdy, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, brought a case against the Director of Public Prosecutions in an attempt to clarify whether her husband, Omar Puente, would face a prosecution if he were to help her to commit suicide. Mrs Purdy had previously failed in the High Court and Court of Appeal to get this clarification.

The House of Lords made it clear that the Right to respect for private life enshrined within Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights also encompassed a person’s choice to end their life and was therefore engaged in Mrs Purdy’s case.

Charles Foster, Counsel for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, argued that the European Court had not gone so far as to recognise that Article 8 was engaged because of the curious and elliptical choice of language in the previous case of Diane Pretty who wanted an assurance that her husband could help her end her life without fear of prosecution. Mr Foster’s argument was rejected and a distinction was drawn between the case of Diane Pretty, who could not end her life on her own, and Ms Purdy who could.

The European Convention on Human Rights was originally drafted to enshrine the rights to live and be protected from abuse and harm by others. It has now been interpreted to protect the right to die - the very antithesis of the founders’ intentions. In 1950, when the Convention came into existence, suicide was a criminal offence in the United Kingdom. Suicide was decriminalised in 1961 but that was very different from recognising a right to commit suicide as the House of Lords has done today in England and Wales.

This judgment represents a further departure from the biblical worldview which regards all human beings as made in God’s image and for that reason worthy of protection. It is the State’s duty to protect God’s creation and not to facilitate its destruction which is the effect of today’s judgment.

Professor William Wagner from the US, speaking on behalf of the Christian Legal Centre said: “When the positive value of life becomes an immorally relative individual choice, very bad things always follow. Minutes after the law lords published their decision, the CEO of Dignity in Dying called on parliament to expand the scope of assisted killing in this nation. The grave implications for the United Kingdom accompanying such a choice are clear.”


For further information:
Mark Mullins 07956 188505


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