Multiple sclerosis patient Debbie Purdy has won her battle to have the UK’s law on assisted suicide clarified. The House of Lords – Britain’s highest court – has ruled that it must now be specified when a person might face prosecution. The 46-year-old had her husband in mind; to protect him should he eventually help her end her life.
“All five [Lords] said the Director of Public Prosecutions has got to be clear and that British law has got to be understood,” said Debbie Purdy.
British law says helping someone to commit suicide is a crime that carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. But since 1992 about 100 British citizens have ended their lives at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland. The ruling is being seen as a legal turning point but others fear it could lead to more prosecutions by removing flexibility within the law.