Husband Cannot Aid Wife's Death; DIANE PRETTY: Judges Say Law on Assisted Suicide Not a Breach of Human Rights

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Byline: DAVID BARRETT

A TERMINALLY-ILL woman who wants her husband to be allowed to help her commit suicide without fear of prosecution yesterday lost her lastditch appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

Diane Pretty, 43, who speaks using an electronic voice synthesiser mounted on her wheelchair, said after the verdict, "The law has taken all my rights away."

But anti-euthanasia campaigners hailed it as a victory which would block the spread of laws allowing euthanasia in Europe and possibly overturn existing legislation which permits it in the Netherlands.

Mrs Pretty wanted an assurance that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) would not take action against her husband Brian because she is unable to kill herself unaided.

The mother-of-two from Luton, Bedfordshire, is dying of motor neurone disease and doctors say she has just months to live.

Asked how she was coping with yesterday's decision, her husband - who has repeatedly said he will abide by the law - said, "She is disappointed but she's coping fairly well.

"It's probably later on when she sits down for a time to think about it, she will probably be very upset."

As a London press conference got under way, Mrs Pretty looked at her husband and mouthed to him, "I love you." He silently mouthed, "I love you too."

Asked for his feelings on the judgment Mr Pretty said, "I'm pleased in one respect because it means I will have my wife with me for a little bit longer.

"But I am very saddened because the one thing she wants to have is the chance to die at the time of her choosing. That has been denied to her and that is not right."

Mr Pretty and the Voluntary Euthanasia Society (Ves), which has backed her legal fight, yesterday launched an on-line petition supporting assisted suicide.

"We hope the people will sign on Diane's behalf, asking the government to do something about the law to allow her to have her right to choose the way she dies, " he said. …