Husband Backs Ill Wife in Legal Fight for Right to Suicide; Poignant Plea as First Case of Its Kind under the Human Rights Act Goes before High Court

Article excerpt


DEVOTED husband Brian Pretty is helping his wife to mount a legal fight, knowing that if it succeeds, she will die even sooner than expected.

Diane Pretty, 42, who has an incurable illness, wants the right to assisted suicide in the first case of its kind under the Human Rights Act.

Her lawyers will lodge papers at the High Court tomorrow, seeking to allow her to die, when she chooses and at home surrounded by her family. They will use two articles in the Act - the right of freedom from inhumane or degrading treatment and the privacy of family life without interference from public authorities.

Just three years ago, Diane was an active mother of two and grandmother of one who enjoyed dancing, going out and spending time with her family.

Then she noticed shaking in her hand.

She initially dismissed it as nothing serious but it continued, followed by increased difficulty in gripping objects and a shooting pain up her arm.

Appointments with a physiotherapist and occupational therapist failed to ease the symptoms. Her GP referred her to a neurologist in October 1999. …