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While the English have virtually approved assisted suicide in the Debby Purdy case , the approval doesn’t cover assistance that is in fact direct killing because the person being assisted can’t quickly kill himself, even with help. Now, ‘Locked in syndrome’ man asks High Court for right to die , reports the Daily Telegraph :

Tony Nicklinson, 56, who can only communicate by blinking and nodding at letters on a board, wants his wife to carry out a mercy killing without facing a murder charge. He is seeking clarification from the High Court to make sure that, if he asks her to help him die, she will not be prosecuted and given a mandatory life sentence.

We can easily understand how Nicklinson feels. His is a horrible condition, especially when he may suffer this way for another twenty or thirty years, and you don’t want to say anything too definite, because you’re not the one locked in. It’s easy to support absolute moral norms when they don’t apply to you.

But still, our lives are not ours to take, and there’s something creepy about his solution: As an ethicist to whom I’d sent the story wrote: “The gentleman is free to commit suicide by refusing food and water and asking for morphine to control the pain. He apparently lacks the nerve (or despair) to attempt this route and seeks something easier. He wants to implicate his wife in an act of self-destruction.”

And also, as the ethicist noted,the high court’s approval would “further diminish the protection of the law for those who are vulnerable.” Permission given for hard cases becomes permission for “easy” cases.

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