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Tony Nicklinson died from starving after losing right to die case

Tony Nicklinson died from starving after losing right to die case
Tony Nicklinson died from starving after losing right to die case

British businessman Tony Nicklinson, a man with locked-in syndrome who fought to legally end his life, has died. Labour peer Lord Joffe has said Tony Nicklinson’s incredible courage will eventually lead to a change in the law.

Lord Joffe, a right-to-die campaigner, said the law needs to be changed and ‘ MPs are not listening to society ‘. 58-year-old Tony Nicklinson from Melksham, Wiltshire, described his life as a living nightmare after he was paralysed following a stroke in 2005. Last week he lost his High Court battle to allow doctors to end his life.

Tony Nicklinson’s death came a mere 6 days after he failed in a High Court bid to be given the right end his life with the help of a doctor. When the judgement was announced, on 16 August, his despair was all too clear from that day’s news reports.

Tony Nicklinson dies six days after losing right to euthanasia

Victim Tony Nicklinson had suffered from Locked-In Syndrome, a dreadful condition in which the sufferer loses control of nearly all the muscles in their body, apart from their eyes. It can be caused by disease, brain injury, or as in Tony Nicklinson’s case, a severe stroke. The person’s mind is usually quite unaffected, hugely amplifying the distress caused by the condition.

Briton Tony Nicklinson had spoken vividly about the indignities of his daily life : ‘ I have no privacy or dignity left. I am washed, dressed and put to bed by carers who are, after all, still strangers. I am fed up with my life and don’t want to spend the next 20 years or so like this. ‘

His stroke occurred in 2005 during a business trip to Athens. Before that dark day, Tony Nicklinson worked as a manager in Dubai and led a physically active life, skydiving and playing rugby.

Specifically sufferer Tony Nicklinson had sought an assurance that anyone who helped him end his life would not be charged with murder. He had hoped to achieve this by asking the court to change the legal definition of murder in order to exclude euthanasia.

The basis for this radical argument was the right to private and family life, as enshrined in article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. His right to autonomy and self-determination included the right to choose how he died.

Locked-in syndrome victim Tony Nicklinson died after refusing food

In the past few days, dying Nicklinson wrote a goodbye message to be posted on his Twitter account in the event of his death. Yesterday his family released it. ‘ Goodbye world the time has come, I had some fun ‘, he wrote.

Last week Nicklinson said he planned to take his legal challenge over assisted suicide to the country’s highest court after three High Court judges ruled against him. Tony was visibly heartbroken at the decision, but said he would keep fighting, despite worsening pain.

But the judgement, which said that only Parliament could be entrusted to make such a momentous change to the law, appears to have taken its toll and crushed his hopes. Tony Nicklinson told his lawyers afterwards : ‘ So, we lost. In truth I am crestfallen, totally devastated and very frightened. I fear for the future and the misery it is bound to bring. ‘

The appeal over Nicklinson’s assisted suicide case will now come to an end, unless someone in similar circumstances steps forward to pursue the action. Last week, the High Court judges, rejected his attempt to have the common law defence of necessity extended to murder and assisted suicide so it could be used by a health professional who might help him die.

After the ruling, Tony Nicklinson’s daughter, Beth, told to the reporters that the family was fully behind her father’s right to die with dignity. The only other options were to go on fighting or to starve himself to death, his wife Jane said.

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