REGINA (PRETTY) V DPP, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR HOME DEPARTMENT AND OTHERS (2001).
Diane Pretty, a 42-year old mother from Bedfordshire was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 1999.Her condition rapidly deteriorated. Diane found it hard to do anything for herself. It was her choice to die at home with her family around her, at the time that she chose to die, rather than be condemned to suffer both physically and emotionally. Mrs Pretty was entirely sure about the decision that she made but she was physically unable to take her own life without assistance. Under section 2 of the suicide Act 1961, if her husband of nearly 25 years were to help her, he could be prosecuted for aiding and abetting a suicide. .
Diane's disease was at a stage where she was paralysed from the neck downwards and her life expectancy was poor. However her intellect and capacity to make decisions was unimpaired. As Mrs pretty was aware that the outcome of the final stages of the disease would be painful and depressing, it was her wish to be able to control how and when she dies and be spared the suffering and indignity.
Although it is not a crime to commit suicide in English Law, Diane was prevented by her disease from taking such a step without assistance, this then being the reason for her husband, Mr Pretty to help her. It is however a crime to assist another to commit suicide under Section 2 1 of the Suicide Act 1961.It was Mrs Pretty's wish to be assisted by her husband in committing suicide but the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) had refused her request to guarantee her husband freedom from prosecution if her husband went ahead with the assisted suicide. Therefore her appeals against that decision were unsuccessful.
Under Article 2 of the Convention, it states that it is up to the individual to choose whether to live, and that the right to die is the corollary of the right to live and is also protected.