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Blog

The right to assisted dying hits the headlines again

By: stagedoorscribbler - July 17, 2017

Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Photograph by Hattie Miles

Once again the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu come into sharp focus as the heart-rending story of terminally ill retired college lecturer Noel Conway returns to the headlines.

Mr Conway, who is dying of motor neurone disease, is fighting to change to change the law on assisted dying at the High Court.

The 67-year-old, who doctors say has just one year to live, wants the right to end his life when his situation becomes intolerable.

Mr Conway is supported by Dignity in Dying  and has received donations of over £90,000 towards his court costs from well-wishers.

His belief that the terminally ill should have the right to an  assisted death is shared by Archbishop Tutu who revealed in 2014 that he was in favour of assisted dying for those whose suffering is intolerable.

The Nobel Peace Prize winning anti-apartheid campaigner reiterated this belief on his 85th birthday in October last year when he wrote in The Washington Post: "I hope I am treated with compassion and allowed to pass on to the next phase of life's journey in the manner of my choice. Regardless of what you might choose for yourself, why should you deny others the right to make this choice? For those suffering unbearably and coming to the end of their lives, merely knowing that an assisted death is open to them can provide immeasurable comfort."

The High Court hearing deliberating over Mr Conway’s case opened today and is expected to last five days. A final ruling is due in the autumn.