Right-to-die fight 'will continue' despite Tony Nicklinson's death, say experts

 

The tireless efforts of right-to-die campaigner Tony Nicklinson and his supporters to fight for a change in the law will continue, experts have said.

Mr Nicklinson, 58, died at his home in Melksham, Wiltshire, this morning following a rapid deterioration in his health after contracting pneumonia over the weekend. He had suffered from locked-in syndrome following an accident in 2005 and wanted a doctor to be allowed to terminate his life.

Professor Penney Lewis, professor of law at the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics at King's College London, said today that Mr Nicklinson's plight would continue to raise questions about a change in the law, after being denied the right to die by High Court judges last week in a landmark ruling. But she said Parliamentarians seemed "disinclined" to address them.

Prof Lewis added: "He was directly challenging the law. I think he has quite a significant role in the history of legal challenges in this context.

"There have been very high-profile (right-to-die) campaigns, and Parliament seems disinclined to resolve them.

"There is a lot of speculation about why that is, and I think one reason almost certainly is that it is a divisive issue.

"If you're a parliamentarian in the House of Commons you have to think about when you are going to be standing for re-election, and taking a stand on such a divisive issue might well cost some votes."

Thousands of well-wishers took to social networking sites after news of Mr Nicklinson's death was announced.

Prof Lewis said: "I think most people in the aftermath of a death of someone who has been in our consciousness for a while are focused on the human aspect of the sadness of his death.

"I think a lot of people with that image in mind of him appearing so distressed after the decision at the High Court last week will be thinking about that."

Another man, known only as Martin, also lost his High Court case to end his life with medical help last week, after judges said it was up to Parliament to change the law.

Prof Lewis said there was still the possibility that Martin's challenge would continue.

Dr John Troyer, from the University of Bath's Centre for Death and Society, said there was likely to be a short-term spike in support for Mr Nicklinson's case, but he did not think it would be enough to promote a discussion among MPs.

He said: "I think his campaign will continue into the future. You might see, in the short-term, an uptake in support for it. That is not uncommon in these situations after a person dies.

"It is possible that it could make its way into the Commons. I think the greatest possibility lies if and when constituents bring this issue up with their MPs."

Asked if assisted dying was a taboo subject, Dr Troyer, a lecturer with the Department of Social and Policy Sciences, said: "We as a society do not (talk about it). There is not a daily discussion about the end of life.

"Not because people are too afraid of it or that it is too macabre. It is those things to a certain extent, it's just not something we're called upon to do."

He said the modern welfare state was "about keeping everyone alive", adding: "You rarely, if ever, hear any member of the Government saying, 'Right, now we're going to talk about how everyone's going to die'.

"Partly because if they did, everyone would think there was a pandemic getting ready to happen.

"What has prevented a change in the law is that it's easy to say, 'We'll deal with this later'.

"I am not cynical about this, but I do not see the law changing any time soon."

Paying tribute to Mr Nicklinson's determination, Dr Troyer added: "It is very rare to meet a person who couldn't in some way identify with what Tony Nicklinson was going through. Because he was so articulate in his state, and because his family was so supportive, it is difficult to avoid the arguments he made."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British author Howard Jacobson has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
books
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Microsoft Dynamics AX Support Developer

    £50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A unique and rare opport...

    Insight Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k – North London

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus 23 days holiday and pension scheme: Clearwater ...

    People Change Manager

    £260 - £325 per day: Progressive Recruitment: IT Trainer: E-Commerce Experienc...

    Associate Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn