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Guernsey campaigners back latest dignity in death court case

Guernsey campaigners back latest dignity in death court case

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Guernsey campaigners back latest dignity in death court case


Assisted dying is back in the national spotlight today, as leading campaigner Noel Conway tries again to win the right to end his own life on his own terms, with two of the most prominent campaigners behind Guernsey's recent debate on the issue wishing him success in his legal battle.

Noel Conway was diagnosed with incurable and terminal motor neurone disease in 2014 and has been publicly challenging the UK's laws on assisted dying, with the support of the Dignity in Dying campaign.

The 68-year-old from Shropshire is due to have his case heard again today, as he is represented at an oral hearing at the UK's Supreme Court.

The UK's Court of Appeal rejected his case in May this year. If he wins this latest court hearing, he will have permission to appeal that decision and his case will then be heard in full by the Supreme Court.

Mr Conway has previously said that he feels that he is prevented from exercising his right to choice and control over his death under the current UK law and he fears that without a change in the law he may be forced to suffer against his wishes. A spokesperson for the Dignity in Dying campaign said Mr Conway won't be at the court hearing today "due to his ill-health."

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Pictured: Noel Conway watched the Guernsey debate closely, and now two prominent assisted dying campaigners are watching for developments with Mr Conway's fight to 'die with dignity'. 

Earlier this year, Mr Conway had his say as Guernsey's politicians prepared to vote on assisted dying.

Ahead of the debate he said he hoped Guernsey would adopt new legislation allowing assisted dying to help other people like himself. In May, he wrote to the island's politicians and media explaining that he had been watching the local debate with great interest and he wanted to offer his own perspective "as someone for whom this issue is more personal than most."

Now, Guernsey's most senior politician and a prominent campaign figure are both watching what happens in the next stage of Mr Conway's fight to fulfil his wish of dying with dignity.

Gavin St Pier

Pictured: Deputy Gavin St Pier. 

Guernsey's Chief Minister brought the debate on assisted dying to the States, and with it global media attention - some of it inaccurate with claims of suicide clinics among the newspaper headlines.

The debate was ultimately lost, after passionate arguments on both sides were heard. Deputy St Pier accepted defeat gracefully and said  it was right the debate had been held and that "it is a topic which isn't going away any time soon..". Now, he has said he wishes Mr Conway luck in his latest legal battle.

“I wish Noel success in pursuing his legal action," said Deputy St Pier. "If, ultimately, he is successful before the Supreme Court, it will have wider implications but it is not helpful to speculate further at this point. 

"I remain of the view that giving individuals greater choice at the end of their lives is an inevitable social and legal change. It remains to be seen whether that change will be led by parliamentarians or by judges.”

assisted dying

Pictured: Will judges or politicians lead the inevitable moves to legalise assisted dying? Deputy Gavin St Pier still thinks it's just a matter of time. 

One of the most vocal supporters of the assisted dying debate in Guernsey was Sarah Griffith MBE, who held public meetings and arranged for supporters of the dignity in dying movement to be outside the States chamber while the topic was discussed.

She has also wished Mr Conway good luck today, and thinks his legal battle will have much wider implications in the long term.

Ms Griffith said, "I know there are many of us that wish Noel the success he deserves in the Courts of Justice.  I truly want this choice to be available to him and for all the people he represents, but we will have to wait and see what happens.

"He is an incredibly brave man."

Doug Wilson Sarah Griffith

Pictured: Sarah Griffith MBE and fellow assisted dying campaigner, Doug Wilson. 

Ms Griffith thinks the assisted dying debate will be revisited in Guernsey before too long.

"As far as Guernsey goes – it is still very much on my and many other people’s radar, as we approach the next election in 2020. 

"It will be interesting to see who will bring this back to the house for further debate and when – at some time in the not too distant future it surely will come back, as giving people the choice is in my view a necessary human right."

Pictured top: Noel Conway. 

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Posted by Robert Williams on
I am all for the right to choose. The last thing I would want is to be a physical or mental wreck relying on others to provide care that I could no longer undertake myself. I do not want to end my days sitting in a chair not knowing who I am, unable to feed myself whilst wetting and messing myself.
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