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Noel Conway wins hearing for assisted dying High Court claim

Humanist and assisted dying campaigner Noel Conway

Noel Conway, a humanist campaigner with motor neurone disease, has won the right to have his challenge to the ban on assisted dying heard in court. He was previously refused permission for a hearing by the High Court in March, but that decision has now been overturned by the Court of Appeal. His case, which is supported by the campaigning group Dignity in Dying, seeks a declaration of incompatibility between the UK’s human rights framework and the law on suicide in England and Wales, with respect to terminally ill people with less than six months to live. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has congratulated Noel on his victory.

Separately, the BHA is also supporting a legal case from its member, Omid, who is working with the legal team at Bindmans. Omid’s case seeks a broader declaration of incompatibility than the Conway case. Omid wants incurably suffering individuals who are not terminally ill to also have the right to die. He suffers from the incurable and life-limiting condition multiple system atrophy.

The BHA is also working closely with its member Paul Lamb, who in 2014 brought a case to the Supreme Court alongside assisted dying campaigner Jane Nicklinson, which secured a promise from the court that it would look again at this issue should Parliament fail to legislate to remedy. It is this judgment which makes Noel’s and Omid’s cases possible.

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘We are happy that Noel’s bravery and determination has paid off and now he will finally have his day in court. It is an injustice that people in Britain who suffer from conditions like Noel’s or Omid’s do not have a say over how and when their lives should end. We continue to advocate for a humane assisted dying law across the UK which would allow anyone of sound mind with a terminal or incurable illness the option of an assisted death on their own terms.’

Notes

For further comment or information, please contact BHA Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at richy@humanism.org.uk or on 0781 55 89 636.

Omid is due to receive a response from the Government to his letter before challenge tomorrow, with his own oral permission hearing at the High Court due to be scheduled very shortly thereafter. Because of the different focus of the two cases, the decision in the Conway case does not stop Omid from also getting permission to proceed.

Read the BHA’s previous comments on the Conway case:

Read about the BHA’s support for Omid’s right to die case: https://humanism.org.uk/2017/04/04/bha-backs-omids-challenge-to-legalise-assisted-dying/

Support the crowdfunder for Omid’s legal case: https://www.crowdjustice.org/case/dignified-death/

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on assisted dying: http://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/public-ethical-issues/assisted-dying/

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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