Non-terminal patient fights right to die law

Media captionRight-to-die: ‘Animals are treated better than me’

A man has started a legal challenge to win the right to die for people with incurable diseases who have potentially years to live.

Omid was diagnosed in 2014 with the non-terminal neurological condition multiple system atrophy.

He told the Victoria Derbyshire show he cannot walk, struggles to talk and tried to take his life in 2015.

Assisted suicide is currently unlawful in the UK, but Omid is seeking to take his case to the High Court.

His lawyers have asked for a full hearing. The judgement has been reserved and is expected to be announced in the coming days.

‘I want to die every day’

Omid – whose surname cannot be revealed – told the BBC in his first interview: “I cannot walk or write. I cannot talk OK and [there is an] effect on my mind.

“I can only get out of bed and get up with help and in two or three months’ time it’s going to get worse.”

Aged 54, with children, he is now largely confined to his bed. He has to wear a catheter bag and needs help with all personal care.

Omid’s condition is incurable, but he is not sure how long he has to live.

“We don’t know how long it could take. It could take more than 10 years – more than 15 years,” he explained.

“Believe me, even three years of this [so far], I don’t know how I managed.

“In the morning when I wake up… I wake up thinking ‘please [let this be the] last time’.

“I decide every day I don’t want to live.”

Image copyright
Omid

Image caption

Omid when he was younger

In September 2015, MPs rejected plans for a right to die in England and Wales, in their first vote on the issue in almost 20 years.

Noel Conway, who is terminally ill, is currently challenging the law in the High Court – hoping to seek the right to die for people with a terminal illness with six months or fewer to live.

Omid’s case – his lawyer Saimo Chahal QC explains – aims to achieve the right to die for people with incurable conditions that badly affect their lives, but who may still live for many years.

This could include people with motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis and locked-in syndrome.

Omid is aiming to raise funds for his appeal via crowdfunding site CrowdJustice.

‘Animals are treated better’

It is currently an offence under section 2 of the Suicide Act 1961 to encourage or assist the suicide or attempted suicide of another person in England and Wales.

Assisted suicide is also unlawful in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Omid strongly opposes MPs’ 2015 decision to reject plans for a right to die.

“If these MPs who voted against assisted dying or assisted suicide, if their loved ones had the same thing as I have, would they vote against it? No, I don’t think so.

“They talk about human life. What’s human about this?” he questioned, pointing towards his bed and catheter bag. “This is human? My life is human?

“Even animals live better than me. Even animals, when they can’t do anything, they put them to sleep. Don’t I have the right for this?”

Disability rights campaigners, however, argue that changing the current law – the 1961 Suicide Act – would be dangerous.

Baroness Campbell – who has spinal muscular atrophy and founded the organisation Not Dead Yet – told the BBC in January that “disabled people want to be valued by society and would see any legal change as a real threat”.

“We already have to fight to live; a right to die would be a huge and frightening burden.”

Watch the Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 on BBC Two and the BBC News Channel.

Non-terminal patient fights right to die law

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