Fry Law has been instructed by Baroness Campbell and Not Dead Yet UK to intervene in the legal challenge being bought by Mr Noel Conway to remove protections afforded disabled and terminally ill people by the current law prohibiting assisted suicide.
Not Dead Yet UK recognises and empathises with Mr Conway’s fears for his future but believes that legalising Assisted Dying by any means would put other disabled and terminally ill people at risk.
Not Dead Yet UK maintains any imposed safeguards will never be watertight enough to successfully protect all ill and disabled people from a change to the Suicide Act. The Act currently provides much needed protection to disabled and terminally ill people by prohibiting anyone from assisting another person to kill themselves.
This issue was last considered by Parliament almost two years ago (September 2015) when Rob Marris MP’s “Assisted Dying Bill” was decisively defeated by 330 to 118 votes in the House of Commons. Mr Conway is now attempting to override Parliament’s decision by seeking a change in the law through the Courts.
Disability campaigner Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, one of the founders of Not Dead Yet UK said, “We have successfully seen off attempts to change the law on Assisted Suicide in Parliament. Now we must change tactics to ensure the Courts continue to uphold our equal right to life. The law must not be weakened via the back door.”
Speaking for Not Dead Yet UK, co-founder Phil Friend said, “A change in the law is a terrifying prospect to the vast majority of disabled and terminally ill people who work hard towards achieving equality for all. Until we have reached that objective Assisted Suicide will remain a dangerous and prejudiced option, likely to increase suffering and distress”.
Not Dead Yet UK notes that not one organisation run by or for disabled and terminally ill people supports the legalisation of Assisted Suicide.. The medical profession is also against changing the law, believing it would destroy trust in relationships between patients and those providing their medical care.
Liz Carr, star of BBC1 drama ‘Silent Witness’ states “Disabled and terminally ill people want support to live – not to die. It is important that the Court hears from the people most at risk from any change to the current law. As a long standing supporter of Not Dead Yet UK I am keen to take an active role in making that happen”.
In our view, it’s important to recognise that not one charity working for disabled people appears to support a relaxation of the law on assisted dying, and neither does the British Medical Association which represents Doctors.
Any attempt at reform which threatens the way in which society values disabled people has to be challenged. We are honoured to have been asked to help Not Dead Yet UK to ensure that the voices of disabled people with real world end of life experiences, but hold opposing views to Mr Conway, are heard by the Court.
Fry Law is retained by Not Dead Yet UK Ltd on a pro-bono basis. Chris Fry and Millie Broadbent are working on the case, with the expert leadership of Catherine Casserley, Barrister @CloistersLaw. The Hearing takes place between 17th and 20th July 2017 at the High Court, Royal Courts of Justice, London.