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Key question: Why is the case being brought?

Our view

Noel Conway and Dignity in Dying believe that the current law breaches his human rights, that a new legal framework with strict criteria and clear safeguards can be put in place safely, and that dying people should have the right to choose the manner and timing of their own death.

According to a poll by Populus of 5,000 people in March 2015, 82% of the British population believe assisted dying should be legalised.

In the last Parliament, following the Nicklinson judgment in the Supreme Court, the House of Lords spent over 20 hours considering Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill. Supporters of the Bill won two crucial votes in January 2015. In September 2015, however, the House of Commons voted against an almost identical Bill, introduced by Rob Marris MP.

The defeat of the Marris Bill showed that the House of Commons is out of touch with the vast majority of voters, who support assisted dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults. In the year-and-a-half since the vote in the Commons, dying people have continued to suffer unnecessarily at the end of life.

People like Noel who want choice and control over their deaths face stark options: either take their own lives in violent ways, travel overseas (at great expense) to places like Switzerland, or ask someone to break the law by helping them. Our politicians have failed to provide a compassionate response to the unnecessary suffering that many dying people face.

The concerns expressed by a majority of the Supreme Court in June 2014 have still not been addressed by the government, over two-and-a-half years later. Given that Parliament has had the opportunity to legislate on assisted dying but has refused to do so, it is necessary to ask the courts again to make a declaration that the blanket ban on assisted dying cannot be justified.

Evidence from overseas, particularly in the USA, shows that safeguarded, compassionate assisted dying laws can be introduced that allow people like Noel to have choice and control, while protecting vulnerable people.