The law on assisted suicide reaches a pivotal moment today with a decision due on the case of Debbie Purdy, the multiple sclerosis patient seeking clarification on the law regarding assisted suicide.
Ms Purdy, whose MS was diagnosed in 1995, has so far been unable to secure a definitive court ruling that her husband, Omar Puente, would not face prosecution if he helped her to travel abroad to die. The 46-year-old, from Bradford, is seeking a declaration by the Director of Public Prosecutions of the circumstances in which he would prosecute her husband if he helped her to die.
Under English law, aiding and abetting suicide is a criminal offence punishable by up to 14 years' imprisonment.
But experts believe that should the verdict fall in her favour, it could pave the way towards Parliament to introduce new legislation on assisted suicide in the future. It comes as the debate on compassionate assistance becomes increasingly heated.
A Populus opinion poll conducted earlier this month found that 74 per cent of people wanted doctors to be allowed to help terminally ill patients end their lives, while six out of 10 also wanted to be able to help the dying commit suicide without fear of prosecution.Reuse content