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Landmark ruling allows MS sufferer to die

Re N (2015) EWCOP 76

On 19th November the Court of Protection, sitting at The Royal Courts of Justice in London, granted an application to allow a women, in the end stage of multiple sclerosis, to die.  The woman’s (known as Mrs N) daughter told the Court that her mother was completely incapacitated.  She asked the Court to allow doctors to stop providing clinically assisted nutrition and hydration.  She stressed that her mother’s current indignity was the greatest contradiction to how she lived her life. 

Medical experts involved in her treatment gave evidence that Mrs N was in a minimally conscious state having endured 23 years of the progressive degenerative impact of multiple sclerosis.  Mrs N’s interests were represented by the Office of the Official Solicitor.  Her lawyers initially opposed the application.  However, after hearing the evidence, their view altered and they supported same. 

In granting the application, the Judge commented that the focus of the case was on Mrs N’s right to live her last days in the way she would have wished.   He concluded:‘I consider that in this case respect for Mrs. N's dignity and human freedom overwhelms further prolongation of life.

To read the response to the judgment from the campaigning group, Compassion in Dying, click here.