Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Twitter Campaign Over Right-To-Die Case

A paralysed man who heads to the High Court today to seek the right to die is at the centre of an extraordinary social media campaign to persuade him to change his mind.
Less than a week after Wiltshire father Tony Nicklinson posted his first comments on Twitter , many thousands of people from around the world are following his plight on the micro-blogging site.
The 58-year-old suffers from "locked-in syndrome" since a severe stroke seven years ago and can communicate only by moving his eyelids.
Mr Nicklinson argues that his life is "dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable" and is seeking legal protection for any doctor who helps him end his life.
Since signalling his determination to die and seeking comments on Twitter, strangers have bombarded him with pro-life messages.
Many others have expressed support for the father of two grown daughters, from Melksham.
In March, he won the right to take his case to the High Court and is seeking to make legal history by challenging the Government over the right to die.
On June 13 he posted his first tweet: "Hello world. I am tony nicklinson, I have locked-in syndrome and this is my first ever tweet."
He communicates through a specially-adapted computer which records blinks and tiny head movements.
Within hours he received many replies of sympathy and support. But others urged him to change his mind.
One wrote: "I do believe in miracles and will pray for you. God will heal you one day. God bless you, He loves you so very much."
Another wrote: "I would hate to see you depart this world without fully exploring all you can do."
In response, Mr Nicklinson has said: "People want to know if I will change my mind because of Twitter. Let's hear the judgement first and maybe I'll tell you."
Some campaign groups have expressed concern at the outspoken nature of some of the comments.
A spokesman for Dignity in Dying said they hoped Twitter users would be respectful of Mr Nicklinson, even if they do not agree with him.
Tony Nicklinson's wife Jane said he had no intention of changing his mind.
Before today's hearing he issued a statement saying: "I'm delighted that the issues surrounding assisted dying are to be aired in court. I need help in almost every aspect of my life. I cannot scratch if I itch, I cannot pick my nose if it is blocked and I can only eat if I am fed like a baby - only I won't grow out of it, unlike the baby."
His legal action aims to seek a court declaration that a doctor could intervene to end his life and have a common law defence of "necessity".
The case differs to previous attempts to amend the law on assisted suicide, like the case of multiple sclerosis sufferer Debbie Purdy, who won a clarification of prosecution policy where someone assists a terminally-ill person to die.
Mr Nicklinson's paralysis is so severe that he cannot simply be assisted to take his own life and he would have to be killed by someone.
Earlier this year, an independent commission on assisted dying concluded for the first time that certain people should be helped to die. But this applies only to those who are terminally ill and are able to take the final action to end their lives themselves - which excludes Mr Nicklinson.

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