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British court: Right-to-die case can proceed
In Europe, euthanasia is allowed in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
Penney Lewis, a law professor at King’s College London, said the U.K. had become more receptive to allowing assisted suicide in recent years but not euthanasia.
“Granting Nicklinson a hearing does not mean euthanasia will be allowed, but it is a big step,” she said.
Part of Nicklinson’s argument depends on the “defence of necessity,” meaning that in exceptional circumstances, a person must be allowed to break the law. In the Netherlands, doctors on trial for killing their patients argued they had no choice when confronted with dying patients begging for relief.
In 2010, Kay Gilderdale was found not guilty of the attempted murder of her severely disabled daughter. Gilderdale admitted she had tried to kill her daughter, who had repeatedly asked to die.
Nicklinson’s hearing could happen as early as this summer. It is expected to take at least five days.
(This version corrects list of countries in Europe that allow euthanasia by removing Switzerland.)
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