Euthanasia is a very touchy subject. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal in Britain, as is the case in most of Europe. However, one man now seeks to challenge and change this law. Tony Nickilson, a 57 year old male from Britain is a stoke victim who is paralyzed from the neck down, in what is known as “locked in syndrome.” Mr. Nickilson is only able to communicate by blinking and nodding to choose letters from an electronic screen.
On Monday, Nickilson’s lawyers argued for permission to seek judicial rulings on three arguments (two under human rights legislation and one under common law) to allow a doctor to “terminate or assist the termination” of Mr. Nickilson’s life, without facing murder charges, as would be the case under current law. Justice William Charles allowed the case to proceed on two of three arguments that Nickilson’s lawyers had prepared.
Mr. Nickilson’s lawyers are arguing the defense of “necessity.” Additionally, Justice Charles said that under human rights legislation, Nickilson could claim that current laws are “incompatible with Mr. Nicklinson’s right to respect for private life.”
In a statement I find to be quite controversial, Mr. Nickilson’s wife said, “Nothing is going to get better…. the only way to relieve Tony’s suffering will be to kill him. There is absolutely nothing else that can be done for him.”
It seems surprising to me that the Judge has even let the case get this far. With such a strong position on euthanasia and assisted suicide in Europe, it seems contrary to established law that Justice Charles has even entertained the thought of letting this lawsuit progress.
Do you think Mr. Nickilson stands a chance at successfully challenging the laws as they currently stand? Do the laws on euthanasia and assisted suicide need to be reformed?