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Debbie Purdy looks forward to 2009

“2008 has been an important year for the campaign for greater choice and control at the end of life, and in particular for my legal case to clarify the current law on assisted dying.

“In October I went to the High Court to ask the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to review the current law on assisted dying and to issue guidance on whether my husband, Omar, would be prosecuted if he were to accompany me to Switzerland. I would consider travelling abroad for an assisted death if my suffering, due to MS, becomes unbearable. The judge failed to offer the guidance I asked for and suggested that this was an issue for Parliament. I hope that Parliament does address this issue, but until it does I will continue to fight my case through the courts, for as long as I am able, to get the answers I feel entitled to. My appeal will be heard on 2nd and 3rd of February by the most senior judge in the civil division of the Court of Appeal, and I am hopeful for a positive outcome.

“As well as my case, assisted dying has been in the news recently after the Ewart’s courageous decision to have Craig Ewart’s assisted death in Switzerland filmed for a documentary, which was shown this month. The airing of the documentary caused a stir from people on both sides of the assisted dying debate, I personally think the documentary was an incredibly brave thing for Craig’s wife Mary to have wanted to do and I thank her for bringing the issues to the attention of the public for debate.

“As well as the documentary, this month the DPP announced that he wouldn’t be prosecuting Mr and Mrs James for accompanying their son Daniel to Switzerland for the assisted death that he chose. He said that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute but that it wasn’t in the public interest to take it any further. I am delighted that the DPP decided not to make the James family suffer any more than they already have and to leave them to begin to rebuild their lives. I do hope that my legal case will offer clarity for people on these issues to prevent any more families from the anxiety of awaiting a decision.

“In 2009 I hope that we can move forward with the debate on assisted dying and find solutions to the current problems with the law that are forcing people like me to travel abroad for an assisted death, as well as forcing people to take desperate action causing botched suicide attempts and mercy killings. I truly believe that there is a solution in a more compassionate approach, offering legalised and safeguarded assisted dying for those suffering at the end of their lives.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who have supported me in my court battle and continue to do so. Omar and I have received overwhelming support from the public and know now that we’re not just fighting for our own clarity and piece of mind, but for that of many others as well.”

– Debbie Purdy (22 December 2008)