Everything about this story is terrible, but only part of the terrible lies with the existence of something as nightmarish as locked-in syndrome, meaning complete paralysis except for the ability to blink (total locked-in syndrome means the eyes are paralyzed as well). The other awful part is the fact that two British men who have been suffering from this syndrome for years, since they suffered strokes, have to have their fates decided by courts. And the courts have said that the right to die is not for them to rule on at all.
Now the men —Tony Nicklinson and a man known only as “Martin” — the former of whom was joined by his wife and daughters who support his decision to die, either have to choose to live the rest of their natural lives unable to move their muscles, or they have to starve themselves to death, or put together the money and effort to go abroad to commit legal suicide in the Netherlands or Switzerland. They do not, it seems, have the right to die at home as they wish. …
Lord Justice Toulson, the decider along with two other judges, wrote that the implications for letting the men die, as well as assuring them that any helpers would be free from punishment, were too vast for the court to decide, it has to be up to Parliament.
It’s true that on occasion there are seemingly miraculous recoveries from strokes and even from locked-in syndrome, and fascinating technologies have been invented to facilitate communication for these unfortunate souls. … Nickilson, who would definitely know best, said (through his computer) in response to the verdict:
'I believe that the legal team acting on my behalf are prepared to go all the way on this but unfortunately for me it means yet another period of physical discomfort, misery and mental anguish while we find out who controls my life, me or the state.'
Unfortunately, he has learned that that it’s the state who gets veto power over life and death after all. …
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