The Supreme Court, which is the UK’s highest court, has dismissed an emergency application from lawyers for Noel Conway, a retired lecturer who is paralysed from the neck down by progressive motor neurone disease, to hear a right-to-die case challenging the legal ban on assisted dying.
The three Supreme Court justices acknowledged that the issue was of “transcendent public importance”, however, the justices decided there was little chance of success if Conway’s claim were heard in full by the court.
The judges added that any change to the law would have to be for parliament, although it would be within the Supreme Court’s powers to make a declaration that UK law was incompatible with Conway’s rights under the European convention on human rights.
They said Conway could bring about his own death by refusing consent to the continuation of the “non-invasive ventilation” keeping him alive.
Helping someone kill themselves is a criminal offence carrying a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.
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