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Sunday, 24 March, 2002, 14:02 GMT
Diane's death will be 'glad day'
Brian and Diane Pretty
Brian Pretty wants to help his wife Diane to die
The husband of terminally ill patient Diane Pretty says the day he helps her end her life would be the saddest for him but his wife's "gladdest".

"It will free her of a body that is restricting her from doing the things that she's loved to do in the past," Brian Pretty told BBC One's Breakfast with Frost programme.

Mrs Pretty, 43, has motor neurone disease and wants an assurance that her husband will not be prosecuted if he helps her to take her own life.

I hope that Parliament will be brave enough to take this issue on

Richard Price
Right-to-die lawyer

The couple have taken their campaign to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, after an appeal to the House of Lords in November was unsuccessful.

Mr Pretty said the couple will abide by the European court's decision, which is being fast-tracked because of Mrs Pretty's deteriorating condition.

The lawyer of another high profile right-to-die case said the British courts' decision not to allow Mrs Pretty to end her life was "cruel".

'Civilised society'

Richard Price, who represented a woman paralysed from the neck down and known only as Miss B, said the legal distinction between his client and Mrs Pretty was a "technicality" which "does not have any bearing on the real world".

On Friday, the High Court ruled the ventilator which is keeping Miss B alive could be switched off.

Mr Price told the Breakfast with Frost programme that a "civilised society must be one in which people are allowed to understand the options, understand the future and allowed to have sympathetic doctors to allow them to end their lives where appropriate for them".

Pope's plea

"I hope that Parliament will be brave enough to take this issue on," he added.

Meanwhile Pope John Paul II has told doctors that excessive medication to keep dying people alive is "useless" and in many cases failed to respect human dignity.

Addressing a world meeting of gastro-enterologists, he said that a determination to treat terminally ill patients at all cost "even with the best intentions in the world, could prove counterproductive, as well as useless and not respectful of the sick person."

Mrs Pretty, from Luton, Bedfordshire, is expected to hear the European court's decision in two weeks. There is no right to appeal.

See also:

29 Nov 01 | Health
Diane Pretty: The fight continues
22 Mar 02 | Health
My journey with Diane
22 Mar 02 | Health
Ruling on right-to-die case
19 Mar 02 | Health
Court hears right-to-die plea
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