Thursday, 5 February 2009

Stay away

The continuing efforts by Debbie Purdy to get clarification of the DPP's attitude to those who might be deemed guilty of assisting in a suicide really annoy me. She failed to get the answer she wanted and has now taken her, to me, needless campaign to the Court of Appeal. She wants to know if her husband, the Cuban violinist Omar Puente, will be prosecuted if he helps her to travel abroad to die in Switzerland, where the practice is legal. She is seeking guidelines from the Director of Public Prosecutions as to his policy on the circumstances in which a person would be liable to prosecution for helping another commit suicide. In England and Wales, aiding and abetting suicide is a criminal offence punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

The DPP has shown his hand by not pursuing action against UK citizens who have done just what she is contemplating. He cannot state a policy all the while the aiding and abetting suicide legislation remains law but he can get around it by declaring prosecutions as not in the public interest. The risk there is that he may incite those with very firm views against self-determination to demand he justify his not in interest opinion and have his attitude overturned.

When I married, I took a vow about supporting my spouse in sickness and in health. Were I in Mr Purdy's shoes, I would make it very clear to my wife that I would do anything and everything in my power to support her wishes in this matter. From such experience as I have had in life after the death of a close relative, my incarceration or not would be very small potatoes. I will not be so sanctimonious as to plead that my oath before God over-ruled my observance of the law of the land but I reckon it would make a good defence.

Were I able, I would counsel Debby to let sleeping dogs lie. If she does stir up sufficient mud as to obscure common sense, the remainder of her life will be spent in fear and worry. In addition, she will set a precedent for others in her position. She and her husband should be enjoying today and not worrying about tomorrow - seems God has already ordained what happens then.

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