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Brian Pretty calls for change in the law on assisted dying ‘sooner rather than later’ on 9th anniversary of Diane Pretty’s death

Brian Pretty, Patron of Dignity in Dying and widower of inspirational campaigner, Diane Pretty, speaking on the anniversary of Diane’s death, has called for Parliament to engage in this issue as soon as possible – before more people have to suffer against their wishes at the end of their lives.

Brian Pretty said:

“Since Diane’s death nine years ago the campaign to allow people the choice of an assisted death has moved on, and I believe Diane would have been proud of the progress. Debbie Purdy’s victory in the House of Lords was a step in the right direction, in making it clear what the existing law is on helping people to die. The law hasn’t changed though, and a change in the law is what is needed for people to have a safeguarded choice of an assisted death in the UK, and this change needs to happen sooner rather than later.

“Diane campaigned to change the law until the day she died, and I intend to keep campaigning until we have the law Diane wanted – where dying people can have the choice of an assisted death if their suffering becomes too much to bear.”

Sarah Wootton, Chief executive of Dignity in Dying said:

“Diane Pretty was an inspiration to the campaign, and Brian works hard to ensure that her legacy lives on in his work as a Dignity in Dying Patron. Dignity in Dying wholeheartedly supports Brian’s call for Parliament to consider the issue of assisted dying with urgency. At present people are suffering against their wishes, attempting to end their lives behind closed doors, often alone, or travelling to foreign lands in order to take control of the end of their lives. This situation is untenable and simply must change.”


Notes to editor:

About Dignity in Dying:

  • Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high quality end-of-life care.
  • Dignity in Dying has over 25,000 supporters and receives its funding entirely from donations from the public.
  • The British Social Attitudes Survey 2010 found that 92% of non-religious and 71% of religious people support assisted dying. This relates to overall support of 82%.

Diane Pretty’s case

Diane Pretty desperately wanted a doctor to help her to die. Motor neurone disease left her mind as sharp as ever, but it gradually destroyed her muscles, making it hard for her to communicate with her family.

Diane was fully aware of what the future held and decided to refuse artificial ventilation. Rather than the fear of dying by choking or suffocation, she wanted a doctor to help her die when she was no longer able to communicate with her family and friends.

Diane died in a hospice on 11th May 2002, having fought in the High Court and the European Court of Human Rights for her right to die.

Media Contacts:
For all Dignity in Dying media enquiries, please contact Jo Cartwright on 020 7479 7737 / 07725433025 or at