Scholar Doubts Suggestions for Assisted Suicide Amendments in UK Could Be Safe

A terminally ill man has lost a legal battle at the UK's highest court over his right to die. Sputnik spoke about the court’s decision with Timothy James, Teaching Fellow in the School of Law at University of Surrey.

Sputnik: Can you explain the court's decision with the case with right to die?

Timothy James: Simply enough they were asked if he should be able to appeal to the Supreme Court the highest court in the land, they said no basically because he had no chance of succeeding if he did get before the Supreme Court. Obviously then it wasn't worth their while and too much pressure on him to go through a doomed case. 

Sputnik: Why is the law around assisted suicide so controversial?

Timothy James: It's controversial as there is a big split in opinion. There are those that feel it is a no-brainer that the law should change and there are those that see real problems in changing the law. The reason there are so many cases in the courts is main campaign organisations Dignity in Dying, part of their strategy is to find like Mr Conway and provide them with support to bring the cases into court.

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Apparently, this is because it keeps it in the news because they've always failed at the highest level and in the European Court of Human Rights. Never the less they keep on bringing the cases.

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Sputnik: Should the UK law be changed or reviewed on a case by case basis?

Timothy James: I don't see how it can be done on case by case basis; the whole point of law is you have to have same for everybody. I myself have doubts that the suggestions for amendments could be sufficiently safe. The fundamental problem that is often pointed out is in effect it is saying some lives are worth living and some are not worth living.

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Those who suffer from disabilities and long-term health problems are very concerned that a change in the law would signal that if you are desperately maybe terminally ill then the solution is to commit suicide or allowed painlessly to die, rather than the treatment and support you need.

One of the major concerns it would have is on the provision of palliative care in the UK. We've already got major problems it's very patchy provision and this would perhaps give people an excuse not to fund palliative care in the way it ought to be.

The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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