Noel Conway has launched a legal battle to change the law on assisted dying
Noel Conway, 67, who suffers from a form of motor neurone disease, is not expected to live beyond the next 12 months and wants to be free to end his life without having to leave the country or the risk that anyone helping him faces prosecution.
The former lecturer arrived at the High Court in a wheelchair and using a ventilator, to begin his fight for a judicial review of the 1961 Suicide Act, which currently prevents assisted suicide.
His barrister, Richard Gordon, told the court: “Mr Conway wishes to die in the country in which he was born and has lived for his whole adult life.
Noel suffers from a form of motor neurone disease and is not expected to live for another year
Mr Conway was a keen skier and climber before being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
“The choices facing him therefore are stark: to seek to bring about his own death now whilst he is physically able to but before he is ready, or await death with no control over when and how it comes.”
Choice and control at the end of life is something that everyone should be able to have
Sarah Wooton – Dignity in Dying
Mr Conway, a keen skier and climber before being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2014, claimed that the choices facing him were a violation of his human rights.
He asked the court to declare the Suicide Act incompatible with two sections of the Human Rights Act which protect the right to a private and family life, and against discrimination.
Sarah Wooton of campaign group Dignity in Dying – which is supporting Mr Conway, said: “Noel’s experience sadly echoes that of hundreds of other terminally ill people in this country.
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Three High Court judges have reserved their judgement until a later date
"Choice and control at the end of life is something that everyone should be able to have.”
In 2015, MPs voted on whether to bring about an assisted dying bill – the first time the matter had been discussed in parliament in almost 20 years – but it was rejected.
The three High Court judges have reserved their judgement until a later date.
If they rule that Conway has an arguable case, they will be asked that it is heard as quickly as possible.