Page last updated at 19:33 GMT, Wednesday, 14 April 2010 20:33 UK

Bradford woman questions PM on assisted suicide law

Debbie Purdy and her husband, Omar Puente, who have campaigned for the law to be clarified
Debbie Purdy won her battle for legal guidance in the House of Lords

A multiple sclerosis sufferer from Bradford has challenged Gordon Brown over his opposition to legalising assisted suicide.

Debbie Purdy won a landmark victory last year after forcing clarification on whether her husband would be prosecuted for helping her to die.

During a pre-election question and answer session in Leeds, Ms Purdy urged the Prime Minister to change the law.

Mr Brown insisted that the law must stand.

Ms Purdy said: "Can we, the electorate, trust politicians that we elect to seriously consider the experience of jurisdictions where assisted suicide is legal - to consider how to implement that in this country?

'Brave campaigner'

"And is one of the reasons that politicians have avoided this issue, do you actually trust us to use legislation responsibly like they do in Oregon, Washington, Holland, Switzerland?"

Mr Brown praised Ms Purdy as a "very brave person and a very brave campaigner" and said he understood "the difficulties of families that are placed in this impossible of positions when people are suffering and they want to do something".

But he said his personal experience with family members had convinced him that the law must stand.

He said: "I have written about this and I have thought about it deeply, and I know that you will probably disagree with me, but I personally think that our duty is to alleviate pain and suffering as mush as possible."

Mr Brown said under guidance published by the Director of Public Prosecution the law would be "interpreted in such a way where as long as the intention is good then the action that was taken will be seen in that light".

Ms Purdy, who is married to Omar Puente, was diagnosed with primary progressive MS in March 1995. She can no longer walk and is gradually losing strength in her upper body.

The Conservative Party has said the law on legalising assisted suicide was a matter of individual conscience for its MPs.

The Liberal Democrats have not commented.



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SEE ALSO
Q&A: Assisted suicide
25 Feb 10 |  Health
Assisted suicide law 'clarified'
23 Sep 09 |  Health
Brown against assisted dying law
30 Dec 08 |  UK Politics


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