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Paul Lamb Awaits Right-To-Die Ruling

July 31, 2013

The Court of Appeal is to rule on Wednesday on the case of a paralysed man who wants to be helped to die.

Paul Lamb wants the law changed so he can kill himself with a doctor’s help.

Mr Lamb, from Leeds, has been almost completely paralysed from the neck down since a car accident 23 years ago and says he is in constant pain.

Unable to end his own life, he wants a court ruling that any doctor who helped him die would have a defence against the charge of murder.

The defence – known as “necessity” – would be that it had been necessary for the doctor to act to stop intolerable suffering.

This is the same argument put forward by another paralysed man, Tony Nicklinson, who died shortly after his case was rejected by the High Court last year.

Mr Nicklinson’s widow is challenging that ruling, which stated that it was for Parliament, not judges to decide whether the law on assisted dying should change.

The Appeal Court will also rule on the case of another paralysed man, known only as Martin, who wants the Director of Public Prosecutions to change his policy on suicide. Martin wants it to be lawful for a doctor or nurse to help him travel abroad to die with the help of a suicide organisation in Switzerland.

At the beginning of the appeal, the lord chief justice said that despite the desperate situation of those involved, the case had to be decided on the basis of principles of law rather than as a matter of sympathy.

Mr Lamb has no function in any of his limbs apart from a little movement in his right hand. He says he has been in pain for 23 years, needs 24-hour care and his life consists of “being fed and watered”.

In a statement to the courts, he said: “I am in pain every single hour of every single day. I have lived with these conditions for a lot of years and have given it my best shot.

“Now I feel worn out and I am genuinely fed up with my life. I feel I cannot and do not want to keep living. I feel trapped by the situation and have no way out.

“I am fed up of going through the motions of life rather than living it. I feel enough is enough.”

Mr Lamb, a divorced father of two, said he was not depressed and just wanted to end his life in a dignified way, with his loved ones around him.

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