Husband begins legal move to allow coma wife to die

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The Independent Online
THE HUSBAND of a woman who has been in a near-coma for six months since a stroke has started legal moves to allow his wife to die.

Neil Lane is seeking a court order to allow nurses caring for his wife, Lorraine, 42, to withdraw food and fluids to end her life. He says he wants to honour a right-to-die agreement the couple made before she suffered her stroke.

However, doctors who have examined Mrs Lane say there are signs of brain activity that distinguish her case from that of Tony Bland, the victim of the Hillsborough football stadium disaster, who was allowed to die by order of the courts in 1992.

Mr Bland was in what is defined as a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS), able to open his eyes and respond to stimuli but unaware of what was going on around him. A judge ruled that he should be allowed to die by having food and fluids withdrawn and the same decision has been made since in 18 other PVS cases.

Mrs Lane is described as being in a Minimally Conscious State, with slightly more responsiveness than a PVS case, putting her outside the precedent set in the Bland case. Lawyers say that if Mr Lane were to succeed with his application to the courts it would set a legal precedent.

Mr Lane said: "Lorraine would want to die. She went to see a friend who was in a coma several years ago. She came back and said to me, `Don't you ever let me be like that'. She'd be saying now, `For God's sake, just get on with it'."

However, doctors opposed to euthanasia have condemned the move. "If this case were to succeed then presumably it would mean that the threshold would drop and more persons would be deprived of fluids," said Anthony Cole of the Medical Ethics Alliance.