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Assisted suicide would be step too far, says Lord Falconer

Commission on Assisted Dying chairman Lord Falconer has told locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson that allowing someone to help another person to die would be a “step too far”.

17 April 2012

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Nicklinson, who became paralysed from the neck down following a stroke in 2005 and is unable to take his own life, has been campaigning for a doctor to help him to die without fear of prosecution. He recently won the right to have his case heard by the High Court.

Yesterday (16 April) he met with Lord Falconer to ask for an explanation on why he should not be allowed to die. Communicating through an eye-blink computer, Nicklinson said: “You say terminally ill people should have the right to die so they don’t end up like me, so why should I be forced to live like this?”

Lord Falconer replied: “If somebody can’t take the final act themselves then somebody has to, in effect, kill them and I think, and the commission thought as well, that was a step too far. It was too risky to allow any situation to arise where one person could kill another that would be lawful.

“Allowing, in any circumstances, one person to kill another would be a massive moral and practical change in the view that the law takes about taking other people’s lives.

“That’s just not acceptable, I think.”

After the meeting Mr Nicklinson said he was satisfied that Lord Falconer had answered his questions. “We must agree to differ on the question of someone killing another. He sees dangers where I do not.

“I believe the law has grey areas and needs clarification,” said Nicklinson.

The High Court is due to hear Nicklinson’s case later this year.

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