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Sunday 23rd October 2016

Right to die case provokes debate

31st July 2009

The Law Lords have supported assisted suicide campaigner Debbie Purdy's request for 'formal' guidance into the laws affecting people who assist in the deaths of loved ones.


Ms Purdy suffers from multiple sclerosis and has said she would like her husband to help her take her own life when she chooses to. 

A public consultation into the issue will be held before the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer issues interim policy guidance in the autumn.

Over 100 people from the UK have died with the help of the Swiss assisted suicide group Dignitas.

Although no person involved has faced prosecution, police have questioned relatives of the deceased. Under current laws, people who help a relative to die could face up to 14 years in prison.

The DPP must now clarify which reasons would lead to the police taking action against relatives.

Ms Purdy told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that a debate into the issue would make certain that laws distinguish between malevolent and benevolent actions.

She said: "We can't allow de facto changes in the law. It's got to be the result of proper open discussion."

"The DPP has got the possibility of making sure that financial gain is definitely not something which should be allowed for assistance." 

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