Noel Conway and his wife, Carol McCusker, in 2016
Noel Conway, now aged 68, is a retired college lecturer who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (a form of motor neurone disease) in November 2014. His condition is incurable and terminal.
Last October, Noel Conway made an application to the UK High Court for a declaration that Section 2 of the Suicide Act 1961 (which criminalises any attempt to encourage or assist another person in killing themself) is incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (which guarantees a right to respect for private life and personal autonomy). Whilst the High Court ruled against Noel Conway’s application in October 2017, the judgment confirmed that the courts do have the ability and the authority to declare the current law inconsistent with human rights.
Noel appealed the High Court decision. On 18 January 2018, two judges from the Court of Appeal granted permission for him to challenge the ruling in a full hearing at a later date. Mr Conway’s barrister told the court that Noel had been given “more than six months to live, but not much more” and as a result he would welcome the appeal being heard quickly.
Chief executive of Dignity in Dying UK, Sarah Wootton, said: “Noel may no longer have the strength to go to Switzerland for an assisted death and in any case, he should not have to put his family at risk of prosecution by helping him get there. Currently his only option is to refuse use of the ventilator he relies on to breathe for 22 hours a day, and suffocate to death. How can this be more ethical or safe, with no formal safeguards, than for Noel to request life-ending medication within the multiple safeguards proposed through his case?”
Click for article in the Independent 18 January, 2018 ‘Noel Conway: Terminally ill man wins right to challenge court ruling preventing ‘dignified death’‘