Judges at the Supreme Court have been deciding whether to give disabled man Paul Lamb the right to lethal injection after a four-day hearing in December.
The Supreme Court permitted Paul Lamb to join the widow of pro-euthanasia Tony Nicklinson — who died last year after a failed bid to persuade the Court of Appeal in London to allow assisted suicide — in a last-ditch legal attempt to overturn the 2013 ruling.
Mr Nicklinson, father-of-two, had been paralysed by a stroke in 2005 and had been lobbying the government to relax the laws on euthanasia. Mr Lamb, who was almost completely paralysed after a car accident in 1990, was allowed to join Ms Nicklinson in the Supreme Court, where they asked a panel of nine judges to allow doctors to give Mr Lamb a legal injection to end his life.
However, if the Supreme Court were to overturn the Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold previous ‘no’ rulings, then this could put thousands of elderly, sick and unwanted individuals at risk of murder.
This is the view of Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, who said, ‘My compassion is entirely for Mr Lamb, whose quadriplegia leaves him in constant need of care. But even such extreme personal circumstances should not undermine our current murder law, for the sake of the vast number of frail and vulnerable people who could be pressured to end their lives, because they feel they are a burden to others’.
Ms Williams warned that the far-reaching legal change sought by Mr Lamb would remove protection for a swathe of individuals who feel under pressure to end the financial and emotional burden they believe they have become.
She added, ‘The risk is that we would create in the minds of vulnerable people a concept of a duty to die, and my compassion extends from Mr Lamb to the thousands of others who would be vulnerable if his case succeeds.’
It is understood that organisation Dignity in Dying, the former Voluntary Euthanasia Society, is not backing the case because Mr Lamb is not terminally ill and is seeking euthanasia rather than assisted suicide.