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Sunday, 12 May, 2002, 19:14 GMT 20:14 UK
'It is wrong to say people can die'
Diane Pretty
Diane Pretty relied on her husband completely
Campaigners who opposed Diane Pretty's legal battle to allow her husband to help her commit suicide are standing by their decision to block her case.

Rachel Hurst, director of Disability Awareness in Action, said: "The issue about Diane Pretty is that she wanted to kill herself, but I am afraid it would be very wrong for justice to say in certain circumstances people can die.


Was her death any worse than someone in the Potters Bar crash?

Rachel Hurst

"It would be a slippery slope and many people who did not want to die could be affected."

Ms Hurst said palliative care was now so sophisticated that it would have helped to ease Mrs Pretty's suffering considerably.

"Was her death any worse than someone in the Potters Bar crash?"

Palliative care

She added that each case varied but she had known people suffering from motor neurone disease who had had peaceful deaths with the proper palliative care.

Deborah Annetts
Deborah Annetts paid tribute
"I certainly would not have wanted the courts to have made any other decision than they did, but I realise how very difficult it is for loved ones to stand by and watch someone die."

Andy Berry, spokesman for anti-euthanasia group Alert, said he was "extremely saddened" by Mrs Pretty's death.

He said: "With regards to the court case, that all disappears into the background at a time like this.

"At least being in a hospice she got some help and support at the end."

Dr Greg Gardner of the Medical Ethics Alliance, said Mrs Pretty's case had helped to bring the issue out into the open.

However, he said the case had served to emphasise that there was no right to die under law.

"Once you allow a little bit of euthanasia, you end up with quite a lot."

Dr Gardner said toleration of euthanasia in Holland had led to doctors suggesting it to patients who were quite some distance from death.

Supporters' response


At least her husband was not driven to a criminal act to help her

Jean Davies
Groups who supported Mrs Pretty have paid tribute to her courage.

Deborah Annetts, director of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, described Mrs Pretty as an "extraordinary woman".

"Everyone who had the privilege of meeting her was struck by her humanity and bravery in the face of unbearable suffering."

Ms Annetts said the refusal to change the law meant that Mrs Pretty had to face up to the distressing death that she had always hoped to avoid.

She said: "The last week was incredibly distressing. The hospice tried everything to make her comfortable without success, and eventually the only way she could be made comfortable was to sedate her.

"This is not about killing, it is about being able to chose a dignified death."

Jean Davies, of European Right to Die Movement, said Mrs Pretty's death was sad.

But she said: "For her, her suffering is over, and at least her husband was not driven to a criminal act to help her."

Mona Arshi
Mona Arshi was Mrs Pretty's lawyer
Ms Davies said Mrs Pretty was determined that she would not die leaving her husband subject to criminal proceedings.

She said Mrs Pretty had achieved a lot by raising awareness of the issues.

"She has made us realise that we could all be in her position. Britain cannot lag behind the other European countries for ever."

Assisted suicide is legal in Holland and Belgium, and tolerated in Germany and Switzerland.

Solicitor Mona Arshi, from human rights group Liberty, who represented Mrs Pretty in her legal battle, said: "It was a privilege to know Diane.

"My thoughts are with Brian and the family, as we are sure are the thoughts of the many people who were touched by Diane's fight."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
George Levvy of the Motor Neurone Disease Assoc.
"No one with the disease need die distressed"
The Voluntary Euthanasia Society's Deborah Annetts
"There is a real need to look at the current law"
Dr Greg Gardner of the Medical Ethics Alliance
"She brought a number of issues into the open"
Jean Davies, European Right to Die Movement
"At least her husband was not driven to criminal acts"
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