Tony Nicklinson

Delighted to present the latest N.O. author, Seaside Sourpuss, in her opening post about that tragic death earlier today:


Right-to-die man Tony Nicklinson dead

Tony Nicklinson, a man with locked-in syndrome who fought for the right for doctors to legally end his life, has died.

The 58-year-old was paralysed from the neck down after suffering a stroke in 2005 and wanted a doctor to be allowed to terminate his life.

Last week Mr Nicklinson, from Melksham, Wiltshire, lost his High Court case to allow doctors to end his life.

His family said on Twitter he died “peacefully” of natural causes.

Of course he did, even though his entire case was built around the premise that he would live many, many years in this hideous condition because, apart from being ‘locked in’, his general health was pretty good.

I hate to sound cynical but, as a layperson, his very sudden death means one of two things.

All the medical experts, family members etc and Mr Nicklinson himself lied about his general health whilst trying to force through a law, that gave, at best, loved ones and medical staff the legal right to kill patients that had claimed they didn’t want to live anymore, or at worst, protection from the law for loved ones, medical staff, and god knows who that decided a particular person should be killed.

Or, Mr Nicklinson was as healthy as they all said he was and someone, somehow, killed him off at his request, and will, in due course, face a court and have to explain why they did it. Which is how it should be, and how it should remain. If you really believe that ending the suffering of another human can only be accomplished by ending their life then you should have no fear and no shame in standing in a court of law and explaining it thus.

Either way, trying to create a law that absolves both the victim and his/her loved ones from the responsibility or guilt of ending a life, by forcing complete strangers (aka medical staff) to do it for you is wrong. If you want to end your life do it, if you want a loved one to help you do it, ask them.

When my mother was in her final few days of end stage renal cancer my family and the Drs met up and we agreed, as a team, that a high dose morphine pump was the best way to treat her. We all knew what that meant, having already seen my Mums twin sister through the same end. That is as close as anyone, be it friend, family loved one or medical person should ever come to ending the life of another.

It was a choice my family and I had to take, knowing full well what the outcome would be. Many years later I still question myself, but deep down I know we did the right thing.

Ending a life is a huge responsibility. A life changing thing. To try and create a law that passes this responsibility onto others, aka the medical staff, so your loved ones can escape the guilt that many thousands of people face, every day, week, month and year is quite hideous.

The fact that less than a week since this appeal failed the claiment is dead proves, in my mind, why this law is so important.

22 comments for “Tony Nicklinson

  1. Sackerson
    August 22, 2012 at 20:37

    I’m very sorry for the poor man, but also agree entirely with your do-it-if-you’ll-take- the consequences position.

  2. ivan
    August 22, 2012 at 21:35

    It is also possible that he was as healthy as they all stated and after the case he just gave up and died.

    The mind can do a lot of thing to the body. My grandfather just gave up living when my grandmother died. There was nothing wrong medically but he died a week after her.

    I am not saying this is the case here but what I am saying is that we should not jump to conclusions without adequate information because such conclusions tend to be wrong.

  3. August 22, 2012 at 22:07

    Certainly throws up some moral issues. Not sure myself and possibly many others are not either.

  4. August 22, 2012 at 22:52

    I agree with Ivan about the mind being able to control/affect the body.

    I have known more than one person who has been rather frail and ready to depart that has hung on until they had just seen that one person or one event…

    As to the case, it shouldn’t be law. It should be as is mentioned in the post a humane choice which should not incur any (external) consequences.

  5. Rossa
    August 23, 2012 at 07:31

    Apparently he contracted pneumonia which if he was as healthy as was claimed he may have got over it. Pneumonia isn’t always fatal though that does depend on any underlying health issues. What puzzles me is the last Twitter comment he sent “Goodbye world, my time has come” How did he know that it had?

    My father was given morphine at the end of his life in the hospice last year. But he was given the choice. He had been taking a small dose and then refused it for several days. He had a tumour in his lung and maybe only a quarter of his total lung capacity was working so without the morphine, which suppresses breathing, he found breathing was very difficult. The brain tries to get as much oxygen in as possible and you end up panting and short of breath which can be distressing.

    In the end he was offered morphine again and decided to take it. He died that night very peacefully for which I will always be grateful. Staff did eveything they could for him but I wouldn’t have wanted them to have to decide for him.

    In contrast a close friend’s brother died in great distress from a brain tumour in January. Clearly in pain and emotional turmoil it was very upsetting for the whole family. My friend would have liked the staff to have done more but what, she couldn’t or wouldn’t say. She worked in the hospital as a receptionist so knew the medical staff very well. As she said “you wouldn’t let an animal suffer like that.”

    So each experience is completely different and as usual where do you draw the line in legal terms.

  6. Rossa
    August 23, 2012 at 07:36

    And welcome to Seaside Sourpuss. A well considered first post among many to come at NO.

  7. JD
    August 23, 2012 at 08:03

    Welcome mrs/miss sourpuss 🙂
    you write-
    It was a choice my family and I had to take, knowing full well what the outcome would be. Many years later I still question myself, but deep down I know we did the right thing.
    you did indeed make the right choice, no need to question it.

    I agree with Cherry Pie. This should not be enshrined in law. It can only be decided on a case for case basis.
    Everyone is different and you decided along with family and your doctor what was best in the circumstances.
    Doctors and nurses have always done this anyway but now, in this secular society in which death is both taboo and feared, they are more hesitant because of the possible legal consequences.

    In the case of Tony Nicklinson it was reported that he refused food and died as a result of that. So why did he not do that earlier? I think what we are being told in the newspapers is less than the full story.

  8. Moggsy
    August 23, 2012 at 14:08

    It is pretty simple. Tony Nicklinson had been refusing food since he lost the court case, he contracted pneumonia and had a pre existing living will to refuse any life saving treatment. He probably could have lived many more years.. if he had continued eating and had antibiotics but he didn’t..

    So maybe a thought or two before people start calling other people liars might be good?

  9. August 23, 2012 at 17:32

    Rossa said “What puzzles me is the last Twitter comment he sent “Goodbye world, my time has come” How did he know that it had?”

    Considering he had very little movement it wouldn’t be surprising that someone else such as member of his family did his tweets for him. When you read the full tweet it says that “before he died, he asked us to tweet: ‘Goodbye ….”

    My own view is that the law should be changed. It won’t open up the flood gates as every person is different. People like Tony who are very active think it’s hell. Other’s like Stephen Hawking don’t mind it one bit.

    The law currently allows people to stop eating, but that also requires doctors to stop feeding and not provide an intravenous drip. So they are still in effect helping someone die. The same with morphine doses which suppress breathing. And then you have the “Liverpool Pathway” which is euthanasia in all but name. It’s all a bit of a mess.

  10. Seaside Sourpuss
    August 24, 2012 at 09:08

    Many thanks for the warm welcome. This subject is always going to be contentious and I can really only comment from my own experience. I believe the law does what it can at present and should remain as it is. The people this law protects most is those that don’t have loved ones to fight their corner when they are no longer able to do so, and also those whose loved ones may not, in reality, be quite so loving, when it comes to inheritance. The Liverpool Pathway is the closest thing we have to legalised euthanasia, but even that system is open to abuse, by those that care little for the person whose life is at stake and more about hospital beds, care fees, inheritence etc. We have all read the horror stories about seemingly healthy people being placed on this pathway, sometimes against the wishes of loved ones, based on nothing more than their age or general prognosis. I believe this happens very rarely but I dread to think what could happen if a law was introduced whereby complete strangers or nefarious relatives could kill off the inconvenient, elderly or sick, under the guise of ‘no hope of a meaningful recovery’ without any fear of repercussion. The old are simply old, and there is no cure for that. They should however, be free to live out their last days without being at risk from pen pushers, box tickers or greedy relatives. There are many ways a person can end their life if they wish, even if they appear to be unable to at first glance. Tony Nickleson has proven this, in a very short time. There is no way an incapacitated, elderly sick person could prevent their death if others decided, via a law, that they should die. The law isn’t perfect by any means, there are just too many inbetween cases, too many grey areas, but it is the best we have at present.

  11. Moggsy
    August 24, 2012 at 10:30

    SS, Personally I am suspicious the Liverpool “Care” Pathway is already being abused – by the NHS.

    I do wonder if you are old and have a bad stoke they won’t be dignosing “Locked in Syndrome”. They won’t be seeing any signs that you are still in there, no matter even if your relatives think there are.

    I do wonder if Prince Philip were just A.N. Other-Senior Esq. if he might be around any more.

    After saying that, personally I think I would still like an opt out, So I could have the option of staying as long as I could but not be forced to endure medical cruelty if I chose.

    My pets are allowed a graceful exit if they need it, I would like an option on that if I needed it also.

  12. Seaside Sourpuss
    August 24, 2012 at 12:31

    Moggsy. I think I highlighted the way the Liverpool Pathway could, and perhaps is, being abused. I am neither old, suffer from ‘locked in syndrome’, nor have I suffered a bad stroke or any of the hundreds of other conditions that could leave me at the mercy of others.
    I am 38 yrs old and as far as I know, fit and healthy. I have, however, opted out of this system by writing a comprehensive ‘Living Will’, which dictates, in no uncertain terms, what should happen to me, should I become unable to articulate it myself. My worst fear is that having gone to all this trouble, which includes many late night discussions with loved ones, a Law could be introduced that could give complete strangers the lawful backing to over ride all my wishes, and those of my loved ones, if they saw fit.
    Using Prince Phillip as an example is a bit of a straw man argument, if you don’t mind me saying. Today there are hundreds, possibly thousands of 80+ yr old men, sat in wards, suffering from nothing more that a UTI. They could die today, tomorrow or next month. None of them will be written about the world over.
    Likewise your mention of pets. Yes we allow them a graceful exit, but they don’t phone the vets themselves do they?. They have no say in the matter. We, as their owners, make that decision for them. We decide when it is time to put them out of their suffering. We do it mostly out of love, but as someone that has spent a lifetime working with animals I know it also done for convenience, lack of funds and on the odd occasion, spite. In fact, I know of certain people that would rather use a brick or a bucket of water to end their pets suffering.
    Tony Nickleson proved that there is a way for even the most incapable of people to bring about their end. He did so by creating a living will.

  13. Moggsy
    August 24, 2012 at 15:11

    No. prince Philip, as I used his example, is not any straw royal and you must know it. There is close equivalence, that is why I used him..

    I know of a situation where an elderly person got a bladder infection (like him) that kept coming back, one thing lead to another in a chain of events and they are dead now. It was the Liverpool care pathway finished them.

    You want straw men? Try straw (talking) dogs you invent. Bricks and bucket in deed… Whatever..

  14. Seaside Sourpuss
    August 25, 2012 at 11:38

    I must admit I’m a little confused as to the point you are trying to make. You mentioned Prince Phillip, who is never, in a million years going to be put on the Liverpool Pathway, simple because he is Prince Phillip. In fact, one might say he’s one of a kind. I never said he was a straw royal, I simply pointed out that using Prince Phillip as an equivalence to an elderly man suffering from a UTI who would, in normal situations, be very much at risk from being placed on the Liverpool Pathway was a bit pointless. He is not an every day 80+ year old man. He is the royal consort, husband to the Queen etc, etc. There is nothing normal about this man so to try and equate his treatment to that of normal people is just pointless.
    As for my straw(talking) dogs, again, it was you that tried to equate the treatment of household pets to the treatment of the sick/elderly/infirm etc. I simply pointed out that the two just don’t equate. I found your last comment, ‘Bricks and bucket indeed…whatever…’ the most confusing. Are you stating that this is not the case, if so, I think you will find that you are terribly wrong. There are many hundreds of cases every year, where pet owners have bought about the end of their pets via drowning, beating, starvation etc. Some even settle for throwing them out of moving cars or allowing them to fight to the death. Or are you stating that this would be a better way to treat our loved ones?.
    As I stated at the beginning, I am very confused, I cannot actually figure out what point you are trying to make.

  15. Moggsy
    August 28, 2012 at 07:54

    Well Seaside, for myself I found it a weird situation where you seemed to not understand or misinterpret most everything I said. I even wondered if you read all the comments from your response.

    So maybe little point in saying anything further except I will maybe go over a single thread again.

    Here goes. Please don’t take it as talking down, but trying to lay it out simply.

    You said; “The Liverpool Pathway is the closest thing we have to legalised euthanasia, but even that system is open to abuse, by those that care little for the person whose life is at stake and more about hospital beds, care fees, inheritance etc.”

    I basically agreed, much more against the NHS because of examples I know of than considering relatives an issue.

    To me the issue is the NHS basically using it to save money , clear beds, get rid of nuisances.

    So I say as much; “Personally I am suspicious the Liverpool “Care” Pathway is already being abused – by the NHS.” And go on to underline it saying “I do wonder if Prince Philip were just A.N. Other-Senior Esq. if he might be around any more.” Clear enough to anyone I think to myself.

    But putting it another way… Prince Philip has had bladder problems several times . If he were just some other old person they might have managed to kill him off by now, but they won’t do that with prince Philip because of who he is and the world watches them..

    So then weirdly you come back with “Using Prince Phillip as an example is a bit of a straw man argument, if you don’t mind me saying. “ I am thinking. I do a bit because – no it isn’t a straw man argument at all in fact.

    A straw man argument is a logical fallacy where a person (I guess you mean me) deliberately puts up a weak misrepresentation of the other person’s (your) argument in order to knock it down and by implication seem to destroy the whole argument or position.

    Logical fallacies are mostly used to cheat an argument, or with some logical fallacies because the person using them cant tell they are fallacies.

    So I am thinking this and comment exactly that back to you “Philip, as I used his example, is not any straw royal” making a slight joke by changing “man” for “royal” it so not to seem putdownish.

    So then you come back with, “You mentioned Prince Phillip, who is never, in a million years going to be put on the Liverpool Pathway, simple because he is Prince Phillip” and I think “OK, you get that but not the whole point. Why am I prolonging the pain here?”. Let’s leave it.”

  16. August 28, 2012 at 09:20

    And welcome to Seaside Sourpuss. A well considered first post among many to come at NO.

    I’ve noticed that the women who associate with this site tend to be the more thinking, stronger personalities and as far as I’m concerned and I hope the co-authors would concur – that’s just dandy.

    It’s not such a secret that I’d like to get more women putting their views here but as we can’t go the “quota” route, it is as it is and I’m grateful to all the co-authors. Cherie I think feels her views are not welcome but that is not so.

    Just because I might disagree and will argue against some view, doesn’t mean I don’t want to see those views put.

  17. August 29, 2012 at 00:58

    Ah James,

    I know my views are welcome 🙂

    But you often mis-interprate (because you are in political mode) what I am trying to say. I try to explain what I mean (I am in non political mode). Often trying to explain a balance (to a slightly biased article) I do that to my left wing friends too 😉

    You then make a follow on post from the thoughts you think I have (the post inaccurately reflects what I think). Then I have to follow it up with a correction (of what I am trying to explain), because the way you express your interpretation to my thoughts on some occasions are quite detrimental to my job!!

    That is why I don’t comment (often) on your more serious posts. I do have lots of thoughts on them, but it is not worth the risk commenting, my time is limited to get back to you to try and explain what I really mean.

  18. Moggsy
    August 29, 2012 at 06:46

    I have got to back Cherry up here. I think she hits a nail on the head.

    You absolutely do misinterpret, what feel like the most obvious ideas when commented, through some “politicaly” tinted glasses,

    Then suddently we are on this merry-go-round we can’t get off of, arguing round in circles. It can be flustrating if you just don’t seem to get the idea and think we are talking about something else.

  19. Seaside Sourpuss
    August 29, 2012 at 08:51

    My apologies Moggsy, for using the term straw argument, it wasn’t really the best choice of phrasing, was it?. However, I still stand by my point that using Prince Phillip in this discussion wasn’t really apt. Only because, to me, it sounds like you are equating the treatment of those that receive private health care to those that receive treatment on the NHS. It’s a bit like saying apples are the same as pears, on the surface the similarities are quite obvious, they are both fruit that grow on trees, however they are not the same. A small amount of people pay a lot of money for private health care, and private health care providers only provide health care for those that pay. It would not be in the best interests of these companies or the hospitals they pay to kill off the cash cows, so I don’t believe either would consider the Liverpool Pathway a viable treatment option. The NHS receives a lot of money, in small amounts, from a lot of people but must treat everyone, regardless of if they have paid or not, so it would appear to be in their best interests to ‘clear out’ those they felt were a drain on it’s limited resources. A better comparison, in my opinion, would have been to stay with NHS treatment but to look at why some hospitals may instigate the Liverpool Pathway more often than others. I suspect it will still come down to economics, aka rich vs poor, but the group as a whole will all be receiving health care from the same provider. I’m sorry if I seemed to not understand or misinterpret most everything you said, I hope you don’t think I was doing this in a deliberate fashion, as this really wasn’t the case. Many, many thanks for sparking my first discussion in the comments, I really enjoyed it and learned a lot, mostly how to better present or voice a defense regarding something I have written and how to better interpret what somebody else has written. Like you, I am happy to call it a day on this thread if you think it has run it’s course (obviously I had to try and get the last word in). I look forward to crossing swords with you again.

  20. Seaside Sourpuss
    August 29, 2012 at 09:04

    To everyone on this thread, I suspect we all, at sometime or another, respond to someone elses thoughts or beliefs with a slight bias. After all, why would we bother to comment with more than a ‘second that’ if we all got along and shared the same ideals. It’s what makes reading other peoples blogs so much fun. I myself love a good argument. I believe it can open the mind and broaden ones scope of understanding, and although I have strong feelings on many subjects I am always willing to have my mind and opinions changed.
    Moggsy, I’m not sure if it was a typo but ‘flustrating’ is quite possibly the best word I ever heard to describe ‘comment wars’. If you don’t mind I may just steal it.

  21. Moggsy
    August 29, 2012 at 10:20

    SS, For goodness sake. I was saying that _iiiif_ Prince Philip was _not_ Prince Philip, (the Queen’s husband, etc.) and just any ordinary senior, then I thought he might not actually still be here.

    I was contrasting the disposable attitude the Socialised NHS medicine has towards seniors who if they were given just more “joined up thinking” consideration and attention might have better outcomes – Like Prince Philip (the Queens’s husband etc.) has had.. so far.

    It is a valid contrast to show a point.

    Talk about lead a horse to water. Can we drop it please?

  22. JD
    August 29, 2012 at 13:34

    All this handbags at dawn stuff is getting away from the point and the original post is also missing an important point-
    This life is the one we have chosen for ourselves, something beyond 20th century comprehension. Compare Nicklinson to Hawking for example.

    Plato’s story of Er was probably the first indication that souls, before they are born, are allowed to choose which life they wish to live and poets in all ages know this to be true and do their best to convey the message; Robert Frost for example-

    ‘Tis of the essence of life here,
    Though we choose greatly, still to lack
    The lasting memory at all clear,
    That life has for us on the wrack
    Nothing but what we somehow chose;
    Thus are we wholly stipped of pride
    In the pain that has but one close,
    Bearing it crushed and mystified.

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