Murder or mercy? Right to die challenge rejected by court

"I think that anybody who is terminally ill and hasn't a hope of getting better, I can't see why they should suffer" - said David, pictured with Emma from Coagh. INMM3213-249-ar
"I think that anybody who is terminally ill and hasn't a hope of getting better, I can't see why they should suffer" - said David, pictured with Emma from Coagh. INMM3213-249-ar

The Court of Appeal has rejected attempts to weaken the law on euthanasia by a severely disabled man and the family of the late locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson.

Always a divisive issue, the MAIL hit the streets of Cookstown to ask our readers their opinion.

James from Coagh said, “I’m definitely not in favour of euthanasia. It’s murder, plain and simple. I just don’t think it should be the case from a purely moral point of view.

“I had a sister in a wheelchair for years, but I certainly wouldn’t have liked her to have chosen euthanasia.” He said that he honestly couldn’t see a time when the government would legalise euthanasia.”

David from Coagh disagreed with that sentiment: “Well I think that anybody who is terminally ill and hasn’t a hope of getting better, I can’t see why they should suffer. You take an animal which has broken its leg or something...what do they do? They put it down to save the animal from suffering.”

Paul from Photo King on Cookstown’s main street agreed, saying, “I think it is important that people have the right to choose their own outcome. However, it is important to know whether they are in the right state of mind or not beforehand. I would say the patient themselves should have the choice. If they are not capable then one of the family members should have it. I think that it needs to be legalised. There is a chance that some people would take advantage of it.”

Three judges unanimously upheld a ruling that Mr Nicklinson did not have the right to be helped to die. They also dismissed the case of paralysed man Paul Lamb who appealed to have the right to be euthanised by a doctor.

Dr Andrew Fergusson, a spokesman for Care Not Killing (CNK), said: “The judgment comprehensively and completely dismissed these appeals, which sought to alter legislation covering murder.

“All three judges strongly rejected the notion that ‘necessity’ should be a defence in euthanasia cases, saying this was not compatible with English Law.”

For Trevor from Cookstown, who has lost family members to illness, he was firmly behind those wanting a change in the law.

“I honestly think that euthanasia is one of the best things that ever was invented,” he said. “If you have got people who cannot do anything for themselves - when your dignity is all gone what have you got? I’ve told our boys that if anything ever happened me it’s what I want. You’d be prosecuted if you put an animal through that suffering.”

Emma from Coagh backed that stance. “In hospitals too...they just fill them with morphine until they die,” she said. “Is that any more or less humane? I do think they (the patient) should decide. I think it’ll be a good while before they make it legal anyway.”

Bronagh from Draperstown was sympathetic to the case, but said that it should be a choice left to individuals rather than doctors.

“In certain circumstances (euthanasia should be legal) I suppose, terminal illness certainly,” she said. “I wouldn’t like to be put in the position to have to choose but, if it was me, I would want the option. It’s a personal decision. I’d support the people trying to get this through the courts.”

Philomena from Cookstown was of a like mind. “I would say that it has to be up to the individual to choose for themselves,” she told the MAIL.

“In some people’s eyes it might be murder, but for the person who is suffering they feel it is just going to rid them of pain. It has to be down to the individual person. If they feel they want to go through with it, why should they be stopped? I probably wouldn’t do it but at the end of the day why should I answer for somebody else.

“It’s not murder because they are probably going to do it anyway. To me it is not murder and it’s not suicide, it is just something some people have in their own hearts.”