Noel Conway: Terminally ill Shrewsbury man ‘hurt’ by protest over his assisted dying challenge

A terminally ill Shrewsbury man fighting for the right to an assisted death has spoken of the "hurtful" protesters who have campaigned against his efforts.

Terminally-ill Noel Conway, 67, at Telford County Court to view a video link of the judicial review on assisted dying
Terminally-ill Noel Conway, 67, at Telford County Court to view a video link of the judicial review on assisted dying

Noel Conway is awaiting the results of a Judicial Review into the law preventing him from having an assisted death.

Mr Conway, a retired lecturer, is suffering from a form of motor neurone disease.

Judges are expected to deliver a conclusion in his case after their summer recess, in October.

Since the conclusion of the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice Mr Conway has spoken about protesters who attended the the case, some with bearing papier mache coffins.

He said: “I found this particularly hurtful.

“Members of these groups falsely claim to understand what it is like to be me. But they cannot possibly understand – they are not terminally ill.

"If my condition were stable and I had more time left, I would be content with my current status. I still have some quality of life left, but not for long. I have only months left to live, and I am likely to endure great suffering and a traumatic death."

Opponents of Mr Conway's challenge have claimed it could lead to pressure on disabled people to also seek an assisted death.

However, he said the case is solely about retaining control over the end of his life.

He said: "My legal challenge is strictly about giving terminally ill, mentally competent people like myself choice and control at the end of life. It is not about devaluing or endangering the lives of disabled people – and the overwhelming majority of the public, including disabled people, understand this."

Mr Conway was unable to attend the High Court proceedings in person due to his worsening health, but was able to watch the hearing through a live link at the court in Telford Square.

A number of supporters of his case also turned out to show their support when he attended the court.

Speaking ahead of the case Mr Conway issued an emotional plea to be allowed a "real say" over how he dies.

He said: "I have always been in control of choices about my life, my health and my body. But as I enter my final months of life with a terminal disease, these rights have been taken away from me. I have lived my entire life on my own terms, yet in the face of intolerable suffering and an inevitable death, I am denied a real say over how and when I will die.

“My family and I have come to accept that I will die. But what I cannot accept is being forced to die either at the hands of MND or by taking drastic measures to end my own life.

"If I choose the former, I may be left completely paralysed and unable to communicate; that is if I don’t suffocate or choke to death first. If I choose the latter, my condition has deteriorated so far that I would need assistance – whether it be here at home or travelling to Dignitas in Switzerland – thereby opening up my loved ones to criminal prosecution. What kind of a choice is that?

“To have another choice - the option of an assisted death in this country - would provide me with great reassurance and comfort, as I am sure it would to many other terminally ill people, whether they chose it for themselves or not. It would allow me to live out the rest of my life and die on my own terms.

“In my eyes, the law simply must change."

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