DIANE PRETTY deserves our gratitude for her courage in fighting for the right to die. She was never likely to win, and on the narrow point at issue the Court of Appeal was right to insist it would be unlawful for her husband to help her to die. By bringing her case and by taking it as far as the courts will allow, however, she pursued a point of principle and highlighted a failing in the law as it stands.
Euthanasia is practised frequently in this as in most other countries, but it is concealed under the heading of the management of pain or by the unacknowledged withholding of treatment.
This situation is cruel for those, like Ms Pretty, who suffer incurable, painful and terminal diseases, and it is intolerable for doctors who are required to be dishonest if they are to be humane, increasing the dose of morphine in order to "allow the patient to go peacefully" while avoiding the issue of whether the patient could have lived longer in greater pain.
It is salutary that juries have consistently refused to convict doctors who appear to have helped the incurably ill to die with dignity - another reason for strengthening rather than eroding the jury system and a telling indication that law itself is …