********PRESS RELEASE: 16 JULY 2017 @ 14:00 ********
DISABLED AND TERMINALLY ILL PEOPLE INTERVENE TO STOP
NEW ATTEMPT TO LEGALISE ASSISTED SUICIDE
Lawyers acting for Not Dead Yet UK will go to the High Court on Monday (July 17) to intervene in the legal challenge being bought by Mr Noel Conway to remove protections afforded disabled and terminally ill people by the current law prohibiting Assisted Suicide.
Not Dead Yet UK will be represented in Court on a pro-bono basis by barrister Catherine Casserley of Cloisters chambers together with and Chris Fry and Millie Broadbent of solicitors Fry Law.
Not Dead Yet UK recognises and empathises with Mr Conway’s fears for his future but we cannot support his action as we believe legalising Assisted Suicide by any means would put other disabled and terminally ill people at risk. We support his right for all medical, social and emotional support necessary for his life to end naturally and with dignity.
Not Dead Yet UK maintains any imposed safeguards will never be watertight enough to successfully protect all ill and disabled people from a change to the Suicide Act. The Act currently provides much needed protection to disabled and terminally ill people by prohibiting anyone from assisting another person to kill themselves. Even if only one person dies against their wishes as a result of a change to the law that is one death too many and completely unacceptable. We argue that disabled and terminally ill people are just as entitled to this protection as everyone else; to single out one group of society as different to the rest is a dangerous move and will be open to misinterpretation. Legalising Assisted Suicide for disabled and terminally ill people would again set us aside from the rest of society. We would effectively be second class citizens again, with suicide seen as a valid choice for us while non-disabled people would be encouraged to live.
This issue was last considered by Parliament almost two years ago (September 2015) when Rob Marris MP’s “Assisted Dying Bill” was decisively defeated by 330 to 118 votes in the House of Commons. Mr Conway is now attempting to override Parliament’s decision by seeking a change in the law through the Courts.
Not Dead Yet UK notes that not one organisation run by or for disabled and terminally ill people supports the legalisation of Assisted Suicide. The medical profession is also against changing the law, believing it would destroy trust in relationships between patients and those providing their medical care.
Disability campaigner Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, one of the founders of Not Dead Yet UK said,
“We have successfully seen off attempts to change the law on Assisted Suicide in Parliament. Now we must change tactics to ensure the Courts continue to uphold our equal right to life. The law must not be weakened via the back door.”
Speaking for Not Dead Yet UK, co-founder Phil Friend said,
“A change in the law is a terrifying prospect to the vast majority of disabled and terminally ill people who work hard towards achieving equality for all. Until we have reached that objective Assisted Suicide will remain a dangerous and prejudiced option, likely to increase suffering and distress”.
Liz Carr, star of BBC1 drama ‘Silent Witness’ states,
“Disabled and terminally ill people want support to live – not to die. It is important that the Court hears from the people most at risk from any change to the current law. As a long standing supporter of Not Dead Yet UK I am keen to take an active role in making that happen”.
Notes to editors:
1. Not Dead Yet UK is a campaigning network of disabled people founded in 2006 to oppose attempts to legalise assisted suicide for disabled and terminally ill people.
2. Not Dead Yet UK promotes equality for disabled people in a secular context; it is not faith centred or allied to any organised religion. Its supporters come from all sections of the community. Its guiding principles are to value the lives of terminally ill and disabled people and oppose assisted suicide.
3. Feel free to use any images from our Flickr account for articles – these are available in high res here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/136198439@N08
For media enquiries and interviews please contact:
NDY-UK – Phil Friend – M 07774 944246 E firstname.lastname@example.org
NDY-UK – Juliet Marlow – T 01420 477646 E email@example.com
NDY-UK -Agnes Fletcher – M 07748 333565 E firstname.lastname@example.org
Fry Law – Chris Fry – M 07837119211 E Chris.Fry@frylaw.co.uk
NDYUK Roger Symes – T 020 7362 0220 E email@example.com
Read what disabled people are saying at http://notdeadyetuk.org/