Jeremy Laurance: This is a misuse of the law

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The Independent Online

Daniel James is not the only British person with a non-terminal illness to have ended his life at Dignitas, but he is the youngest. That makes his case especially challenging for Lord Falconer's review which seeks to bring order to a confused area of public policy.

Dignity in Dying, which helped establish the review, part-funded by the best-selling author and Alzheimer's sufferer Terry Pratchett, campaigns for a change in the law to allow people with a terminal illness to be helped to die in the UK, so they are not forced to travel abroad.

But even in cases that are not terminal, people who act compassionately should not have to go through the trauma of a serious crime police investigation. In 2009 the conductor Sir Edward Downes, 85, chose to end his life at Dignitas with his wife Joan, 74, who had terminal cancer. He did not have a terminal condition but with deteriorating eyesight, hearing and mobility could not bear to go on without her.

A family friend who helped them was on bail for 10 months while waiting to learn if she would be prosecuted. That is cruel and unusual treatment and a misuse of the law.

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