The UK law is confused over whether the relatives of the MS sufferer be charged with criminal cherges. The controversy comes after the incident of Debbie Purdy, who was diagnosed in 1995 with primary progressive multiple sclerosis.
She says that when her condition becomes unbearable, she would like her husband, Omar Puente, to accompany her to Switzerland where she can die in comfort. Purdy hopes to use the facilities of Dignitas, the Swiss charity which assists the terminally ill to take their own life, by providing support, facilities and ultimately a fatal dose of barbiturates. Purdy says the blind-eye approach of authorities is not good enough.
Purdy says her condition is such that by the time she is ready to die, she would depend on her husband’s help to travel. She said,
“I just want clarity so I know whether or not my husband Omar will be prosecuted or questioned by the police if I decide to travel abroad to die and he accompanies me. If the law is not clarified, I may be forced to travel alone before I am ready.”
Nan Maitland, an 82-year old member of campaign group Friends at the End, watching the case in court yesterday, said:
“People are worried that if this case is unsuccessful it will make it harder for their partners to assist them in ending their lives.”
Purdy’s legal team said that they were not seeking immunity from prosecution for her husband, but for more information about when prosecutions were likely. “It is impossible for someone in [Purdy's] position to get any useful guidance,” Pannick said, adding that she was “entitled to a policy” to protect her right to a private and family life under article 8 of the European convention on human rights.