Burke Takes "Right To Life" Case To High Court
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 27, 2004
LANCASTER, ENGLAND--Leslie Burke took his fight to the High Court Thursday to be able to make decisions regarding his life after he will no longer be able to talk.
Burke, 44, has cerebellar ataxia, a condition that doctors say will get worse as he ages. Even though he is expected to lose his ability to move, talk, or eat on his own, he will still be able to see, hear, and understand everything that is going on around him.
Burke, a disability rights advocate who co-founded the Lancaster Disablement Information Support Center, wants the court to guarantee that doctors cannot decide that his "life is not worth living" and then withdraw food and water from him.
Guidelines passed in 2002 by the General Medical Council currently allow doctors to pull feeding tubes from patients whose continued treatment is considered "too burdensome in relation to the possible benefits".
Burke's attorney, Richard Gordon, told the court that the GMC's guidelines violate his client's "right to life" under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Ruth Evans, chair of the GMC's standards committee, told the court that the council welcomes the judicial review.
"This is an exceptionally difficult area of decision making, and one in which the law is still developing," she explained. "For this reason, we welcome the court case as an opportunity for further clarification."
"Patient disputes doctors' right to end his life" (Guardian)
"Please don't let me die of thirst, brain tumour victim asks High Court" (Telegraph)
"I am a human being. You need to ask me what I want. No one can know what quality of life I enjoy apart from me" (Telegraph)