BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Programmes: Panorama  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Panorama Monday, 6 May, 2002, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Your comments on Please Help Me Die
Your comments on Please Help Me Die.

Thank you for all your e-mails. Some of you have asked us to pass on your messages to Brian Pretty, which we have done. Due to the volume received, we apologise that we have not been able to publish all your e-mails here, but please do not be discouraged from sending your comments in the future.

My husband, Iain, has Motor Neurone Disease and after watching last night's programme I felt the need to write to you about our situation. Iain is 46 years old and we have two young sons, aged 11 and 14. Iain was diagnosed in August 2000 and is now unable to do anything for himself. He can still speak but it is difficult for him as is eating. He has made a very difficult decision: he does not wish to prolong his life by artificial means. Diane Pretty could have made this choice. He has refused to have a feeding tube. If he develops a chest infection he will have one course of antibiotics, no more. This has not been easy for me either but I support his decision to die as does the rest of our family. Our GP is supportive and has encouraged Iain to write a living will in which he has stated his wishes. Our GP has also assured us that with the correct palliative care his death will be peaceful. In this day and age there is no need to suffer. I found some parts of the programme frightening. I appreciate that Mrs Pretty had certain fears about her death as I am sure I would if I was in her situation. However had my husband been recently diagnosed I think I would have been very upset about the way death from MND was described. The Motor Neurone Disease Association, from whom we have received the most tremendous support, states very clearly in its literature that death from choking is very rare in MND and that, with the right care, death can be peaceful. The last 18 months have been horrendous but I have made sure that my husband has received the best possible care he can, with the help of his care manager, the GP and the MND Association. My husband, with the support of his employer, continued to work from home for as long as possible and I am still working part time. MND is an evil disease but it is possible to maintain some quality of life and dignity.
Julie Matthews

we must accept that the medicalisation of old age cannot occur without the responsibility for the medicalisation of death.

Anna Seale
My father died of MND in 1989. I watched him deteriorate in much the same way as Diane Pretty. My father asked me to assist in his death on two separate occasions, but I refused. In some ways I regret not helping him and often feel guilty about the pain, fear and anguish he suffered. MND is a terrifying condition and I truly believe that only the sufferer has insight into their condition. I am of the opinion that the individual sufferer has a right to decide when and how they die, and we as "non-sufferers" have no right to decide on matters we know nothing about. Although I did not know Mrs or Mr Pretty, I feel I share in some of their experiences. I would like to congratulate the BBC for the sensitive yet realistic way the issues were portrayed. I hope Mrs Pretty can now rest in peace and Mr Pretty can take strength from the courage displayed by his wife.
Paul Hurst
Peel, Isle of Man

The paradox in society is that we applaud struggles against inevitable death whilst demanding the right to end life to avoid that final undignified death. This reflects are own fears and uncertainties. The programme raises fear in all that we might suffer a similar undignified death yet the contrast is we are also afraid of the certainty of death at someone else's hands. This tragic case (and my sincere condolences to the family) highlights the need for us to all confront our own fears and accept that medical care has advanced to the stage that we must accept that the medicalisation of old age cannot occur without the responsibility for the medicalisation of death.
Anna Seale

As a Care Assistant I often come into contact with terminally ill patients. I endeavour to do my best to make their life as comfortable as possible, however some times this is not enough for some individual patients. When I come across patients in similar circumstances as Diane Pretty it some times comes into my head how I could make their suffering end. Personally, I could only end their suffering by placing a pillow over their face, but I know I would not have the courage to do this to a person even though it may be their wish. So people like myself carry out our daily duties in the knowledge that at the end of the shift we are able to walk away. For family members, however, it is a 24 hour duty from which they are unable to extract themselves. So, therefore, I think every case should be looked at individually. The wishes of the patient, family and advice of professional staff should be collected together and a decision implemented. If that decision is to allow the individual to die with dignity and without pain then I would be in favour of such a decision. The Diane Pretty story will always stay in my mind, and my deepest sympathy goes out to Brian and Diane's family. May she now rest in peace, no longer with us but Diane will always be remembered.
Philip Allen
Stoke on Trent

I think it is wrong to end someone's life in a non-natural way.
Beatriz Elderfield

It was good to have the programme dedicated to this issue but in many ways it was inadequate, both in conveying what palliative care is and the wider contribution it makes to the terminally ill and their family and friends, but also in conveying the idea that because a majority of people think euthanasia should be legalised then it must be right to do so. We are in a twilight zone where we can no longer tell the difference between right and wrong and there are people who make decisions in this and many other crucial areas of life and death that have no sense or vision of the impact of such decisions. Like my grandfather who died of MND I believe that even if it is an enormous struggle then that struggle can contribute to all of us and no matter what legislation we pass we cannot remove pain and suffering and it would be wrong to do so.
Shena Campbell

Diane deserved the love Brian put into action in caring for her - and she deserved life.

Moira Hendrickx
I thought the programme was very powerful and the most painful I have ever watched. Painful as it so reminded me of my mother's last year of life. Diane could have been my mother. Having tried to help my mother through the illness and seeing a strong lady lose her strength and dignity I fully support Diane Pretty's case. Diane's comment about what to do with the court were sound and just go to prove how MND sufferer's lose virtually everything except their minds - and their beautiful smiles, it seems. A couple of days before my mother's death in a hospice she spent a long time spelling out her story, which began with the words "MND is hell". When I sent a large cheque to the MND association after Mum's death, I included a copy of her story. It upsets me still to say that the society has never acknowledged that letter, which could have contained a clue as to the cause of MND - a disease we know little about. Why should human beings be kept alive, trapped in their own bodies?
Bridget Sears
Hartley Wintney

My heart went out to Diane - and just as much to her husband. He is amazing, and demonstrated the power of love. Thank God for the decision of the European Court. Diane deserved the love he put into action in caring for her - and she deserved life. She had something not many of us have - a knowledge of the proximity of death - which gives more, not less, meaning to life. What was so wrong was that she felt a loss of dignity in her helpless state, to such a degree that the only way she felt she could regain it, was through assisted suicide. Our culture places independence as a goal and a right - which is not only inaccurate, but unjust. It shouldn't even be our goal - not total independence. I found - by chance - that the best method of pain-relief is the constant attendance of other human beings. I doubt this is chronicled, but it's time some research was done on the subject. No healthy person goes through life without some suffering, without some indignity. Pain, immobility and indignity can all be conquered by care and respect - by recognition that life is not about independence, but ALL about our relationships and inter-dependence with our family, friends, colleagues, neighbours and strangers. There is never a case where murder (or suicide) is the best option. I hope that death never becomes a "right" for anyone - but that REAL care (engaging the heart, not just the head) becomes a goal - and a right for all.
Moira Hendrickx

Having watched last night's programme, it re -enforced for me how much courage Diane and her family have. As a disabled person myself who I must admit does not suffer anywhere near as much as Diane I must most strongly disagree with the opinion that some people hold that if Diane had won her case other people could be "put to sleep" that didn't want to die. At the end of the day Diane's mind was in perfect working order, it was her body that had given up. In cases like these people should have the right and dignity to choose when and how they will die.
Carol Murphy

I was distressed to hear that Diane was in pain during the end of her life. Surely the stand that giving drugs to relieve pain, even if it shortens life, exists at all times in terminal illness, not just the last stages? If her symptoms were better controlled and greater resources were given to giving her more experiences and stimulation - from holidays abroad to sky-diving (for an extreme example!) - she may not have wanted to die, or already have felt dead as she did. Even though her husband was willing to end Diane's life, I would be worried that had she been given the right to die, it may have set a precedent where there is a duty to kill. Not everybody has a husband like Diane's and this duty would end up with the doctors and nurses. Would this be moral or fair?
Richard Laughton

I have just watched the programme on the internet and it had me in tears. It reminded me of how my granny was for the last few months of her life and the indignity and pain of it all. She tried to commit suicide and failed. Everyone in my family would have done anything to help end her suffering, knowing fully that is what she wanted but was incapable of doing herself anymore. Like Diane Pretty, she suffered a death she had done everything possible to avoid and it was the last way she wanted to end her life. She had done everything she wanted to in life and wanted to die in peace with no more pain with her family around her. My mum is a social worker in a hospice and people are constantly asking for her help to die. She has to say no because of how the law stands. More than any other issue, this angers me to the extreme. I cannot understand why any one else has the right to dictate how you live your life and how and when you die, when dying will be the end point anyway. The act of dying is part of living. We have rights in life, and this should therefore include the way in which you die. If I was in this situation I would be applying for Dutch citizenship... a far more accepting and liberal nation. As a future lawyer I am being shown that the law is not justice, there is no fairness in life... or in death.
Vicky Downes
St Johns College, Cambridge

My mother died two months ago from MND and my father died 11 weeks before her from complications of leukaemia. I am glad that neither of them were alive to see your programme. More than anything, your programme seemed to suggest repeatedly that anyone who has an illness that causes them to lose their "dignity" should have the right to have their life deliberately terminated. MND is a horrible illness, but an illness need not rob anyone of dignity. Dignity is given to people by the attitude of others to them and by the way their carers treat them. Pain and distress in MND cannot be abolished but they can be diminished by active use of medication and the active intervention of a service for the terminally ill - not by four hours a week in a hospice run by a CEO who believes in euthanasia. Your programme was totally biased towards the support of euthanasia and should have been balanced by coverage of people with MND and their families who are coping differently. Your message to all MND sufferers and to all people with terminal illness who depend on others for care was clear - "do the decent thing and kill yourself". Why not instead give the message that with proper help, skilled medical intervention and support, what remains of life can be spent with dignity, even if it is not without anguish for all involved? Helping people in a real way takes time and money - euthanasia is cheaper and quicker.
Teresa Carey
Monaghan, Ireland

It is important that this issue does not die with Diane.

Rita Robertson
I cannot understand with the sophisticated technology available today that a computerised system cannot be set up so that a person such as Diane Pretty can initiate a series of commands which will allow them to administer a lethal injection or overdose to themselves. I consider that this should be a multi-step procedure (for example a number of questions that the person seeking to die responds to) so that it cannot be initiated accidentally. Furthermore the death should be overseen by a panel of independent persons to ensure that this was indeed that person's wishes and that there was no coercion involved. This would mean that the individual who wishes to end their life is doing it themselves and all anyone else is doing is providing them with a means to do so. All I can say is that my heart goes out to Mr Pretty and his family and to say that I am sincerely sorry to hear that they had to be put through this.
Amanda Wilson
Sunnyvale, USA

I find it remarkable that the government is able to find the time to put forward a new bill to give animals even greater protection but they are unwilling to even discuss the possibility that people, like Diane, with no hope of recovery, should be allowed to die with dignity. It is important that this issue does not die with Diane.
Rita Robertson
Scottish Borders

Two brief points:
1. The law is clearly an ass in this area as it was inhumane to prevent Diane the right to end her suffering.
2. Brian Pretty is an example to us all.

I feel great sympathy for the late Diane Pretty and her husband, Brian. However, I have to say that I agree with the decision of the judges. It is a dangerous step to legalise the deliberate ending of a person's life. For one thing, it introduces a conflict of interest for the medical profession, whose task is to help people in their illnesses. The very thought that our doctors might also become our executioners is extremely troubling, especially for the old and frail, the severely disabled and the very ill. This is made more serious when we think of the financial constraints of the NHS - euthanasia may be a cheaper option than treatment or palliative care. This is not mere scare mongering either. It would also place a severe strain on those who feel they are a burden to others, yet would not relish the prospect of ending their lives. Finally, what pressure it would place on someone when their loved one wishes them to help them commit suicide? Brian admitted he would have found it very difficult to do. Some might find it even harder, and perhaps very difficult to live with the thought that they had done it. Life is a gift from God, and only he has the right to end it. But when we have God with us, through faith in Jesus Christ, he helps us to value our lives even in the most difficult times.
Colin Grimwood

My condolences go out to Diane's loving husband, Brian, and to every member of Diane's family, all of whom can now find peace in the knowledge that Diane is at rest and no longer forced to suffer in pain. As to the question: "Should Diane have been helped to die?" I think it has been proved that my opinion, and that of Diane herself, counts for nothing so far as the law is concerned. I should, however, like to recall something Diane's mother said, which is that a person seen to be forcing a loved family pet to suffer the pain that Diane was forced to endure would face prosecution, a fine and highly likely a prison sentence. Personally, I would not have hesitated to grant Diane her wish to die with dignity, and I would have willingly put my fate in the hands of public opinion and a jury, safe in the knowledge that whatever sentence was passed, I would not have helped to contribute toward causing Diane any further pain and indignity. My abiding memory of Diane's story will not be the loss of her fight for the right to die as she wished, it will be of a lady who continued to show strength and courage in the face of such overwhelming and unwarranted adversity. Rest in peace Brave Lady.
Richard Nicholson

I was gripped by this moving programme and wept as I watched. Whilst I do see and understand both sides of the euthanasia debate, it was evident that even though Diane had lost all other control over her body, she was clearly in sound mind and able to understand people. She could still communicate - albeit with technological help. I do not feel she could have been pressured into a murder situation - perhaps like people suffering with mental illnesses could be. We need to tread with care, but Diane was so obviously frustrated and uncomfortable with her existence - who are we to stand in her way? Please send my best wishes to Brian.

This programme was one of the bravest and worthiest pieces of television journalism I have ever seen. I hope "experts" were watching. What remarkable human beings Diane and her husband are.
P.S. I wish your programme was still going out on a Monday evening when I'm sure it would reach a wider audience.
Kathryn Graham
Newcastle upon Tyne

I was shocked and distressed by the biased account of MND presented in last night's Panorama. I work as part of a MND team based at King's College Hospital and feel that this filming presented the worst possible scenario and must have been extremely distressing for other people and their family/carers living with MND. The palliative care angle was disappointing and the programme as a whole portrayed a complete lack of regard and respect for this vulnerable group of people. Why weren't the views of a wider professional and lay audience sought prior to release? I would be happy to contribute to further discussion.
Emma Willey

I was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease [MND] in November 2000. I feel I must congratulate you on your coverage of Dianne's story. You handled it with sympathy and compassion but didn't pull any punches and showed people what this bag of rubbish called MND is all about. I am only an apprentice at this game and I am grateful for giving me an insight into what I can expect. Last year I and another sufferer travelled from Richmond, North Yorks., to 10 Downing St. to ask Tony Blair for government funding into research. Well, surprise surprise, nothing came of it, so it's back to fundraising [the MND Association relies totally on donations]. We are going from John O'Groats to Land's End by the same mode of transport as the last trip ie by electric wheelchair @ 4MPH. Could you please put pressure on the government to provide some funding for research into finding a cure, then the problem over assisted suicides because of MND wouldn't exist and I would be where I belong - at home with my wife and daughter not rattling around the countryside in an electric wheelchair
Dave Hainsworth

I am very saddened to hear of Diana Pretty's death. I think her husband Brian should get the highest award that Britain has to offer for his love, patience and care all this time. My condolences to him and his family.
Diana Anyona

I have just watched and cried during the programme. All the time conscious of the thought that had I seen an animal in such distress I would certainly have wanted to save it from the agony. As a mother and wife I would hate to put my husband and children through the distress of watching me suffer, them feeling so helpless and frustrated. God bless Diane, may she rest in peace. My prayers are for her family, may their wounds heal with time.
We see an animal caged in a zoo
Wandering aimlessly up and down, nothing else to do
Fed well and cared for but longs to be free
Trapped in a cage like Diane, trapped in a body with MND
Sindy Carmichael-Brown
Brentwood, Essex

What a humbling experience it was, to watch tonight's programme about Diane Pretty. Just heart breaking. I feel Brian Pretty deserves the greatest respect and admiration for his unfailing loyalty and love. I hope that he has someone now, to support him and enable him to recover after what must have been an exhausting two years. I am glad that she has died quickly and that her suffering wasn't further prolonged.
Val Ost
Sudbury, Suffolk

How can we comment on something like this. You must have to be there to know what it is really like, but to Brian we admire and sympathize with you in every way.
Rita Wallis

Britain: please stop being a medieval island and start joining civilization

Charles Kuipers, Holland
Diane Pretty's story is very distressing, both for her family and the viewers. The devotion shown by Brian to his wife Diane should be recognised in some way. He is a fine example as to what marriage is all about. Brian could not have done any more for the care of Diane. I am very sad to hear of Diane's death, but I do feel she is now at peace. The law would not let Brian help Diane take her own life, and on the whole I do think this is right. If being allowed to help terminally ill loved ones to commit suicide, then I think this would open the floodgates, causing very many problems. Perhaps the law could be looked into again, allowing individual cases to be looked into at length. But I do wonder how practical this would be. Doctors would be put in an impossible position, as many relatives could not carry out such actions on their own. With the sad news that Diane has died, I very much hope that Brian and the rest of Diane's family will find happiness in the future.
Steve Fuller
(city) Brighton&Hove

After having watched the BBC documentary about what Diane and Brian had to go through, I'm sad to say I loathe the fact that no responsibility has been taken in a case in which, so very clearly, euthanasia should have been a solution. Dignity should have prevailed. Britain: please stop being a medieval island and start joining civilization. Thanks Brian for giving Diane all you could have given within the law. From Holland with sincere sympathy and admiration.
Charles Kuipers
Haarlem, Holland

I think Diane's case is typical of a judicial system that has completely lost all moral and compassionate sense of value in a person's rights for self determinism. The decision against Diane and many in her position is a grave travesty.
Steven Stanbridge
Ash, Kent

I appreciate what Diane Pretty was trying to achieve but am glad the Court at Strasbourg ruled against her assisted suicide. My daughter died last year, from Cystic Fibrosis. As with other lung diseases she was in pain, distressed and had trouble with her breathing, the problems Diane was trying to avoid... I'm afraid there are millions of people suffering like this. It is up to the rest of the population to help them and their carers. Diane was lucky that she had domiciliary nursing and hospice care. This option was not available to my daughter and many others. My daughter appreciated all the little things in life even when in tremendous pain and it is that small quality of life that supported her through the last few weeks. For Diane's sake and all the others that will have a difficult death, it is up to us to support them. There is nothing greater that can be done for a member of your family than to be there for them in times of crisis.
Anne Humble
Truro, Cornwall

I think this fight should go on in Diane's name to help others.

Deborah Mcdonald
I agree 100 percent with Diane Pretty's wishes and with Brian's family. Governments treat dogs better. My heart goes out to Diane's family.
Aubrey Meredith

I think it is terrible that animals have more rights than people. Not only did the so-called law turn its back on this woman, but on her family, causing more distress than anyone should ever have to suffer. After hearing this very sad dilemma I would like to know how the law explains giving rapists, muggers and child abusers very small sentences yet a loving husband trying to stop the suffering of his wife would face 14 years in prison. I think this fight should go on in Diane's name to help others.
Deborah Mcdonald

It upset me to watch this programme because this woman should not have had to suffer the distress arising from the decision of the courts. I watched my father die from cancer. He went from a fit and healthy 59 year old to die nine months later at the age of 60 looking like he would have at 90 or older and he found the lack of mobility distressing. If he had wanted to end his own life I would have liked to think that the choice was his and his alone (although it is very difficult for those he left behind) and I do not think we could have helped him do it. There ought to be something that doctors are able to do to assist people in these circumstances then surely there would not be the possibility of abuse of the right to die in a dignified manner. This lady was a very brave person to allow the BBC to film her and we should all carry on the fight for her! Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.
Ms N Streek
Ash Vale

I felt so disturbed after watching Diane's plight to have the right to die. The pain she would have suffered without the drugs she was on would almost have been like being tortured. Yet countries that practise torture are punished by governments of the western world. Why let her and her family suffer in such an inhumane way? God bless you Brian for your courage. You are a light for us all!
Neil Allen

Please would you convey my thanks and admiration to Brian Pretty, who cared for his wife with such love and expertise? I am a retired nurse so understand some of the things Brian must have gone through. Diane WAS pretty, not only by name and I trust that in time Brian will remember with joy all the wonderful times they had before this awful illness struck. Lets hope that he gets all the support he needs and will eventually be able to make a peaceful and happy life way into the future.
Glenys Mackie
Llangammarch Wells

I watched the Diane Pretty programme because my own mother and her sister both died from this terrible decease. The pain of watching and caring for a loved one like this is truly heart braking. The loss of dignity that was shown with her being washed and district nurses coming in brought back my own nightmare. I would have ended my mother's suffering towards the end when only the eyes flicker and show you what he soul is really thinking. My father has not yet recovered from the intensive nursing and demands that were required of him. My heartfelt sympathy today goes out to Diane's family, because although her nightmare is over, theirs - without her - will just be beginning. My mother was kindness itself and to be robbed of life like she was so just heartbreaking. If you can pass this on to her husband and family or let me have another e-mail to contact him or even write to him I would be honoured to do so just to lend some support to them. I cried when she finally died - but tears of freedom for her - and to know that she and my mother and aunt are all free from the hell known as motornurones!! thank you.
Mrs Elaine Waumsley

I have just finished watching the excellent and most emotionally moving documentary on Diane Pretty. I do not believe in euthanasia as a general option open to anyone, only on closely examined, extreme individual cases. But if any case was "extreme" and "individual", it was this one! Yes, her wish should have been granted to her. What a wonderfully brave woman, and what a wonderful, devoted brave man, was the husband. My heart goes out to him, and his family, and anyone else who helped in the care of this woman. An excellent documentary, as always, thanks BBC.
Mrs. M. Bojang

My mother has MND in its advance stages. To me watching her die is a prison sentence in its own. If she asked me to help her die I would not think twice about it. Even the thought of a lengthy prison service would not deter me, at least I know that she would be at peace but the people who enforce this law would have the weight of the nation against them by putting me in prison. Our thoughts are with Brian and his family at this difficult time and mostly with Diane, Rest In Peace.
Colin Mulholland

Please pass this message to Brian Pretty. My son, Andrew, has just last week been diagnosed as having Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Text books advise his life expectancy as being 15/25 years during which time he will gradually deteriorate -probably - to death. The programme tonight has left me with nothing but admiration for Brian and the magnificent way in which he cared for Dianne. He is an inspiration to me and I can only hope that I can in some way emulate the love and dedication he has shown. I hope and pray that we do not arrive at a similar situation and that God spares Andrew suffering at that level. Thank you Brian for allowing the world to see your plight and to see the issues in all their harrowing reality. God bless you and may He help you in your future now that she has gone

Thank you to the BBC and of course Brian Pretty for Panorama tonight. Last year I was with my brother when he died suffering from MND (still waiting to see a specialist Mr Blair!). The law is wrong. Nobody with an ounce of compassion can allow a death such as sufferers of MND experience. My sympathy, and applause for the fight, go Brian Pretty tonight.
Geoff Benham
Southam, Warwicks

It would be extremely difficult to know when a person was at the point of no return

Steve Parry
I have followed this tragic story since it first came on the news. Your wife was a year younger than me. I have my health and a young family. I know I am blessed. At least your wife was blessed in the knowledge that you were by her side and you loved her and looked after her to the best of your ability, with all the love and respect and humanity one person can give to another. My condolences go to you and your family. When the pain of your wife's death eases, I hope either the BBC or the other television companies who have covered your story pay for a wonderful relaxing holiday abroad in the sun because you look exhausted and you need a rest. God bless you and your family.
Marie Taggart

However terrible and difficult it was to watch the programme tonight, an even with total sympathy for Diane's plight, I feel it very difficult to agree to euthanasia in any form. It would be extremely difficult to know when a person was at the point of no return, and as a previous comment said, one day you could feel like dying and the next not... It is such an extremely involved subject, that I feel it better to leave the situation as it is at the moment, and when a person is nearing the end, let the doctors make the final period as comfortable as possible.
Steve Parry
North London

I feel at a loss to fully comprehend the emotions of the situation either way. I know that I would find the way of life Diane Pretty experienced for the last six months utterly intolerable if faced with the sane situation. At the same time I am painfully aware of the "flip" side where people with deteriorating conditions or profound disabilities are equally denied the right to have any input into decisions regarding medical treatments which may prolong or enhance their lives. As simplistic as it sounds both human suffering and the denial of attempts to exercise dignified autonomous control do and should feel very uncomfortable to us all. How we alleviate the former and empower the latter whilst safeguarding some of the most vulnerable people in our society baffles me.
Jo B

I study ethics, therefore I am fully aware of the ethical implications of scenarios such as this one. The European Human Rights Court, in their decision, in my personal opinion, failed to demonstrate deontological theory where by the focus is on the absolute right of the individual to freedom of "consent". Diane was not consenting to the kind of life that not even animals would have to endure. How many more people must die in such an inhumane manner before the law will finally accept that this country's priority is not to its image to the rest of the world or to these so called "do-gooders" but to the needs of its people?

In trying, in their view, to protect the sanctity of life, the legal authorities do precisely the opposite. There is no sanctity in a life of living hell for a patient such as Diane, or for other patients who have other terminal diseases such as Early Onset Alzheimer's, of which I have close knowledge. No matter how good the care the sufferers get, it is just plain cruelty.
Bruce Bovill

Brian, you are an angel. Diane was so very lucky to have you. Poor, poor Diane and poor, poor you, But you seem a strong character, as was Diane. I know all she was, will help you in the next months and years. My thoughts are with you.

Excellent and very moving programme. No frills, just as it is. Absolute credit to the Pretty family. A very difficult situation faced with the utmost dignity.
Liz Beech

Every human being has the right to live in dignity and also the right to die in dignity
Mr. W.G.van Dijk

I have just watched tonight's story about Diane Pretty. I work as an OT with MND suffers. Although I disagree with suicide, there must be cases where euthanasia is justified. Changing the law does not mean that everyone with a terminal illness has to die. Well done, a sensitive, well documented story. My commiserations go out to the husband and family who in my opinion were just as brave as Diane.
Lisa Davies
Chiswick, London

Thank you for such a thought provoking programme. Perhaps in time this country will develop a more liberal action to those of us who wish to die with dignity.
Deborah Roberts

I support Diane's case completely. The law is wrong - we all have the right to decide to die with dignity.
Julia Nicholson

Desperately sad as I feel about Diane's situation, this issue is far from straightforward. I founded the Association of Carers (now Carers UK) in 1981, when there wasn't even a word for a carer and their situation was totally unacknowledged. Brian is typical of many who are pushed to their limits and beyond by the strain of caring - lack of sleep, desperate worry about money, 24-hour responsibility, and so on. He is also typical of many carers in middle age (of whom I was one) in that he has other caring responsibilities, in his case elderly parents. In these circumstances, many carers have breakdowns which usually go unrecognised by those around. The situation could very easily arise where - deliberately or subliminally - pressure was put on the disabled person to think about shortening their life, just to bring an end to the intolerable strain. The answer must be to provide as much input as possible, though even this has its downside, since the constant presence of outsiders is a strain in itself. Often, also, as with Diane, the only care which people find truly acceptable is that of the person nearest to them. Congratulations on a very thought-provoking programme, and my deepest and most sincere sympathy to Brian.
Judith Oliver

Condolences and love to Diane¿s husband and family. A very brave fight.

Can both she and her husband, who gave her such loving care, be nominated for an award for bravery

Jane Bragge
I do understand why the courts could not allow a blanket ruling! However why could they not allow the law to be assessed on individual basis? What a brave woman - she did not deserve to end her life that way - we should all have the right to some say on our end.
Amanda Clark

What a brave lady with a wonderful husband. God bless them both.
Sheila Taylor

Diane Pretty had a dreadfully tragic situation. Can both she and her husband, who gave her such loving care, be nominated for an award for bravery - in honour of them both. May a cure for this terrible disease be hastened by the awareness and attention they have brought to it.
Jane Bragge

After seeing the programme, would you like to live your last days like that? I would not even see a dog/cat or any animal live like that. Place your hand over your mouth for about 30 seconds and I don't think you will get anywhere near what that poor lady felt. My heart goes out to the family.
Simon Longstaff

I was deeply moved by this program and cannot believe how inhumanely Diane was made to suffer! MR PRETTY DESERVES THE HIGHEST ACCOLADE THIS COUNTRY CAN GIVE FOR HIS DEVOTION - Mr Blair please take note?
Colin Evans

Diane's mother summed things up so well by saying were a dog in this position then it would be put down. Since when do we afford a dog more humanity than a human?
Anita Amesbury

who has the right to determine "Quality of Life"?

John Airey
I am confused as to why someone who was so very much in pain was allowed to go through what could have been avoided. It is unjust and undeserved to put any human through what you would never dream of allowing any animal to go through! Thoughts with you Brian and your daughter!

This woman suffered so much - thank the Lord she is now at peace!
N Jordan

I have never seen an episode of Panorama more biased, but given the media bias regarding this case it's no wonder. This is yet another case of "hard cases making bad law". The Dutch have gone down this route, and thousands of elderly people now carry cards requesting that doctors do not kill them. By the Dutch government's own figures, over 1,000 were put to death without their permission in 1990. No doubt the situation is little different now. There is no way that deliberately killing your patient can be considered "treatment". It's the kind of evil spin that the Nazis were famous for, ie they justified their experiments on the Jews by labelling them as non-human. I am not saying that terminally ill patients should be kept alive at all costs. Diane Pretty had both the option of hospice care and to die from a chest infection, but refused both. By her own decisions, she made her suffering worse. Anyway, who has the right to determine "Quality of Life"? Not long ago, doctors agreed to "first do no harm". Nowadays quality of life is used merely as an excuse for saving money on treating patients. No doubt some will consider me heartless, but having nursed terminally ill patients I think I have more idea of what goes on than those who have been manipulated by the media or influenced by the emotion of one hard case. If a right to die existed, we'd be able to opt out!
John Airey

If any person wishes to die, they should have this right. Should their state of health be so bad as to be incurable, and causing suffering, arrangements for this to be carried out should be permissible if the person suffering wishes. If this requires another person's assistance, i.e. a medically qualified person, this should be available, with no blame on the person requested to action the matter. I feel the High Court Judges in Britain who refused this to Diane are murderers.
Tim Belsten

Diane Pretty suffered from a terrible disease. Every effort and resource must be used to ease the suffering of people so afflicted. But a right to die, and more especially, a right to have someone else help you die, will become a duty to die. Society must favour life over death and work to improve it. Assisted suicide will become not the right to die with dignity but the duty to die with despair.
Andrew Clark

Firstly let me say I am all for euthanasia. We would be up in arms if we allowed an animal to suffer the way she did, yet we allow human beings to suffer. God only knows what that poor woman Diane Pretty had to suffer at the end. She suffered the very thing she feared most. Shame on all those responsible for not allowing her to die as she pleased.
Shirley Birnie

I feel very sad that the last months of Diane's life were spent in such a bitter battle. I know someone in the same position as Diane who has been a complete source of inspiration to myself and other people around. It cannot be our right as mere humans to decide when someone lives or dies. My mother died of cancer of the liver. One day she would scream to die and yet on another she would be glad to be alive to see me and her granddaughter. For this reason I am against euthanasia.
Jane Hearne
Hemel Hempstead

I suffer from the same MND problem, but am not as badly off as Diane was... the law is now telling me that I should end my life earlier than when it becomes totally unacceptable, ie when I can still do it myself.

Harry Radestock
More than 40 years ago a person who murdered someone would have to pay with his/her own life for justice. Diane said she was willing to pay for her murder with her own life, even though it would have to be done by someone else. A real murderer gets a maximum of something like a 25 year sentence which can end up as only 12 years if they react correctly while in prison. Yet English/European Law decided that Diane must spend the rest of her life in a Mental/Physical Torture Chamber for doing nothing wrong! How can this possibly be called JUSTICE? I suffer from the same MND problem, but am not as badly off as Diane was yet, I can still exist as an individual with a little help from my wife, moving around and looking after myself, but the law is now telling me that I should end my life earlier than when it becomes totally unacceptable, ie when I can still do it myself.
Harry Radestock

I have never before felt the need to write about anything significant. This is. Diane Pretty was diagnosed some time ago. She knew what was ahead of her. I very strongly do not agree with suicide, but to ask someone to murder you when you are not strong enough to take your own life seems absurd. Speak to Stephen Hawkins (I don't much like his views but at least he is getting on with his life).
Jane Elgie

I think it is wrong to ask anyone else to kill you. I feel for Diane Pretty, my own mother is dying of MND, but I think if you want to die then you need to take your own life before it becomes a physical impossibility.

Euthanasia should be permitted for terminally ill people who have lost all their ability to do anything themselves and want to end their life. It is emotionally distressing to watch a loved one slowly deteriorate until they can't do anything themselves and are being kept alive only by the medication they are on and/or 24-hour nursing. I doubt that anyone who has been in this situation will be against euthanasia. As a society we don't let animals suffer so why make humans suffer?

It's a tragedy that, in civilised society, we would let someone suffer as much as Diane has. She expressed on numerous occasions that she wished to die and her husband was willing to help in that request. Who are the rest of us to say she had to go on living? What right did we have to make Diane suffer for longer? There needs to be a quick but well considered change in the law on this matter. People like Diane should be able to choose death, but on the other hand, shouldn't be forced to accept it.
Kristel Chambers

I am with a group called "Very Much Alive" that consists of people with severe disabilities who feel threatened by any move towards euthanasia. We are genuinely concerned that people who are vulnerable could be pressured into accepting euthanasia and cannot see any safeguards that could protect everyone. Our approach is strictly non-religious. We feel that society should support everyone.
Andy Berry

Panorama: Please Help Me Die looks at the case of Diane Pretty


Do you agree with the European Court of Human Rights' decision on Diane Pretty's case?



767 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Links to more Panorama stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |