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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 May, 2005, 00:48 GMT 01:48 UK
Pretty 'refused aid-to-die offer'
Diane Pretty
Diane Pretty lost her court battle in 2001
Right-to-die campaigner Diane Pretty refused an offer to die at a Swiss euthanasia clinic so she could launch her court challenge, her family says.

Speaking at the three-year anniversary of her death, her husband Brian said she wanted the right to die at home.

Zurich-based Dignitas wrote to Ms Pretty, from Luton, Bedfordsire, who eventually lost her case, in December 2001 offering her an assisted suicide.

The 43-year-old was paralysed with motor neurone disease when she died.

The offer from the Swiss clinic came just after Mrs Pretty launched her legal marathon which went to the High Court, Law Lords and the European Court.


The mother-of-two had asked the director of public prosecutions to rule out prosecuting her husband if he helped her commit suicide.

She had argued the condition had impaired the quality of her life so badly that she wanted to be able to choose when to die.

But her request was denied, which prompted her to take court action.

She started suffering breathing difficulties just days after she lost the case and died within two weeks.

She could have chickened out, instead she chose to fight to try and change the law in this country
Mark Slattery
Voluntary Euthanasia Society

Speaking about the Dignitas offer to the Press Association, Mr Pretty, who is due to marry divorcee Carol Harris this summer, said: "We looked at the letter and Diane said she was not interested in it.

"She dismissed it straight away. She wanted the right to die at home with her family and friends around her."

Dignitas, founded in 1998, first came to prominence in the UK when Reg Crew, who was terminally ill with motor neurone disease, sought its help to die in January 2003.

More than 20 Britons have been helped to die at the clinic, it has been claimed.

Mark Slattery, of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, said the fact that Mrs Pretty had decided not to use Dignitas was a brave move.


"She could have chickened out, instead she chose to fight to try and change the law in this country."

Mr Pretty also gave his backing to attempts to change the law.

Last month a House of Lords select committee called for a parliamentary debate on legalising assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia.

The committee had been considering Lord Joffe's private member's bill, which proposed a lifting of the UK ban to "enable a competent adult who is suffering unbearably as a result of a terminal illness to receive medical assistance to die at his/her own considered and persistent request".

Brian Pretty and Carol Harris
Brian Pretty and Carol Harris are due to marry later this year

The bill ran out of time in the last parliament, but Lord Joffe has promised to reintroduced it.

Mr Pretty said he supported the plans, but only to help those with terminal illness.

"It is part of what Diane wanted. It is not just making it easier for everybody, it is for people who are terminally ill. Making it a patient's choice.

But Julia Millington, of the ProLife Party, said she was against such a law.

"The key problem is that legalising it leads to medics making quality of life judgements and that is subjective."

Brian Pretty speaks about his wife's death

Diane Pretty's husband to remarry
18 Dec 04 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Please Help Me Die
29 Apr 02 |  Panorama

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