Noel Conway loses High Court appeal for choice to end his life

Today three judges in the UK High Court ruled against Noel Conway’s application to enable doctors to help him to end his own life. Noel was too weak to attend the court in person for the hearing or for today’s decision, but said “As I approach the end of my life, I face unbearable suffering and the possibility of a traumatic, drawn out death. Travelling to Switzerland is no longer a viable option and I cannot put my family or doctors at risk of prosecution by asking for their help here at home. Knowing I had the option of a safe, peaceful assisted death at a time of my choosing would allow me to face my final months without the fear and anxiety that currently plagues me and my loved was no longer viable for him to travel to Switzerland, the site of the Dignitas clinic, and he said he would not put his family or doctors “at risk of prosecution by asking for their help here at home”.

Sarah Wootton, the Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying UK said “It is clear the current law does not work, when every eight days someone from this country travels to Dignitas; every year, 300 dying people end their own lives at home in England and Wales; and thousands more experience unimaginable suffering right to the bitter end”.
Click for press release by Dignity in Dying UK 5 October 2017  

Noel Conway told Dignity in Dying UK the following: “Carol and I have received a great deal of support since the campaign went public. From all this, we have obtained much-needed strength as our energies and commitment fluctuate with the ebb and flow of the campaign. To all of you out there who support our case we are profoundly grateful. We have been particularly humbled to read many personal stories of heartache and suffering which had there been a law could have been avoided.” Click for Noel’s Story as presented by Dignity in Dying UK

Noel Conway’s application was 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. Noel Conway v Ministry of Justice began on 17 July with support from Dignity in Dying UK and Humanists UK, and was heard by the three judges over four days.

Noel Conway plans to appeal the High Court decision. According to Sarah Wootton “The judgment confirmed that the courts do have the ability and the authority to declare the current law inconsistent with human rights. This is very important and will help Noel’s case and any future cases that may come forward.”

Click for BBC News 17 July 2017 ‘Terminally ill man Noel Conway in right-to-die fight’ – this article includes a 2.07 min video where Noel says “I want to be able to say goodbye at the right time” and explains that “I could be virtually catatonic and conceivably be in a locked-in syndrome – that to me would be a living hell. That prospect is one I cannot accept.”

Click for article in The Guardian 18 July 2017 ‘Suicide Act breaches human right to dignity, high court told’

Read article in The Guardian 12 April 2017 ‘Terminally ill former lecturer wins right to fight assisted dying ban’ 

“Because I cannot end my own life without some assistance, I am faced with severely restricted choices and with a death that to me would be unacceptable.”

See Noel’s letter ‘My letter to you’, which was shared by Dignity in Dying on 7 June 2017.