1. The ethical issue here is a woman diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1999 who relies on full-time care and has indicated she wishes to die at home at a time of her choosing (Ashraf, 2001, 1437). Under the 1961 British Suicide Act, if her husband assists her in any way, he could be charged with aiding and abetting a suicide. The woman's lawyers used the Human Rights Act to challenge the Suicide Act citing the exceptional circumstances of the case. The woman lost her case.
2. The immediate facts which have the most bearing on the ethical decision to be made in this case are the woman's right not to suffer unnecessarily from her disease, and her right to end her life whenever she wishes. There are no economic factors involved. As far as social factors, in the light of Europe's progressive stand on euthanasia, the woman would have much public support in her decision. There is no need in this age of modern medicine for anyone to suffer needlessly just because of the religious beliefs of others. There would be some who uphold the courts decision on religious grounds, but they are not the ones who suffer as a result.
3. The claimants in the issue are the woman, her husband, and the court. The woman deserves the right to end her life when she deems necessary. She should not be made to suffer the horrors of this disease. Her husband should have the right to assist her in this matter, as they are obviously agreed on what she wants to do, and he should not have to face an aiding and abetting a suicide charge if he does so. The courts have to uphold the law, but under the Human Rights Act "no one shall be subjected to torture or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment," and making this woman suffer through the horrors of this disease would certainly qualify as inhumane and degrading treatment.
4. The woman would prefer to die at a time of her own choosing; her husband would like to assist her; the court w...