Court refuses assisted suicide plea

 Following yesterday's High Court's decision not to allow a terminally-ill woman to commit suicide with her husband's help, the Rt Rev Peter Smith, Bishop of East Anglia, who chairs of the Department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, said he agreed with the judgment. In the landmark case, wheelchair-bound Diane Pretty, 42, who has suffered from motor neurone disease since 1999, and is so ill she cannot move or speak, had asked to court to guarantee her husband immunity from prosecution if he helped her die. Her lawyers argued that the current Suicide Act which bans 'aiding, abetting counselling or procuring' suicide was not compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights. The judges, Lord Justice Tuckey, Lady Justice Hale and Mr Justice Silber were unanimous that the Suicide Act was not incompatible with the Convention. They offered immense sympathy but told her: "The right to human dignity is not the right to die with dignity but to live with as much dignity as could possibly be afforded until life reaches its natural end." Bishop Peter said: "No one can fail to be moved by the suffering of Diane Pretty and her husband: motor neurone disease is a terrible terminal illness. The court, however, has rightly upheld the law prohibiting euthanasia and assisted suicide, which is there not least to protect the weak and especially vulnerable older people. It is right to alleviate suffering; it is wrong intentionally to kill."

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