March 12 - A paralyzed British man who wants to be able to lawfully end his life wins the right to have his case heard by London's High Court. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Tony Nicklinson, who is paralyzed from the neck down, wants a doctor to be able to help him die - without the risk of being prosecuted for murder. On Monday, a British judge ruled that he could have his right-to-die case heard in London's High Court. Nicklinson spoke through a computer. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TONY NICKLINSON, SAYING (TALKING VIA COMPUTER): "I am delighted that the issues surrounding assisted dying are to be aired in court. Politicians and others can hardly complain about the courts providing the forum for debate if the politicians continue to ignore one of the most important topics facing our society today. It is no longer acceptable for 21st century medicine to be governed by 20th century attitudes to death." The 57-year-old used to lead an active life. In 2005, he suffered a stroke and now can only blink and swallow for himself. His wife Jane said her husband had been considering the idea of assisted dying since the couple returned from Dubai, where they used to live. (SOUNDBITE)(English) JANE NICKLINSON, WIFE OF LOCKED-IN SYNDROME SUFFERER, SAYING: "When Tony first came home and we started learning how to use the board, one of the first things he said to me was, would I help him to die. And we talked about it and we went through all the trying to put him, you know, trying to change his mind and that and he said that he would give life a go for a couple of years to see if he could adjust, because some people said that, you know, some people do adjust. So he gave it a couple of years and it was about December 2007 that he decided that he wanted to start, you know, making plans and investigating how we could go about doing what we're doing." British law says helping someone to commit suicide is a crime that carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. However, since 1992, about 100 British citizens have ended their lives in Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters.