I want to have a dignified death

by Omid

I want to have a dignified death

by Omid
My name is Omid and I am 54 years old. I was diagnosed with an incurable disease in 2014. I have set up this page because I need help to have a dignified death. This requires a change in the law.
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pledged of £20,000 stretch target by 296 people
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My name is Omid and I am 54 years old. I was diagnosed with an incurable disease in 2014. I have set up this page because I need help to have a dignified death. This requires a change in the law.
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Detailed grounds

April 19, 2017

Since we last updated you - we would like to share the Detailed Grounds which were served on the government when we issued my claim. The Grounds can be found here. I do not wish the press to have details of the home in which I am living or details of my family so my surname and address and other confidential details have been removed.

The government was due to reply last Friday, but have asked f...


Why I am raising funds

The law on assisted dying in the UK is cruel and unjust. It stops me, and many like me, from having a safe and painless death at home in England. 

I believe that this has to change. I am determined before I leave this earth to do some good and try and change this cruel law that stops people like me dying peacefully at home. I am following in the footsteps of Debbie Purdy and Tony Nicklinson, and that gives me courage. 

Change the law

With the help of my determined legal team, I am seeking a change in the law for people in my situation who have been diagnosed with an incurable illness so that we can safely end our lives. 

For this, I really need your help – please contribute anything you can so that this unjust law can be challenged.

Remember that suicide is legal – it’s just that I cannot end my life as I have lost control in my arms and hands. I could have several miserable years ahead of me. I have lost the will to carry on with a wretched existence without joy and pleasure. I cannot do anything for myself. What sort of life is this and who would want it?

My story

I was born in Iran and came to the UK aged 12 in August 1975. I am a British Citizen. I started working at the age of 17 and have worked all my life  as a property developer until about 2008, when the first signs of my illness appeared.

I have also experienced the joy of being married and having children. I married my wife on 10th August 1990, aged 27 and we have 3 children. We separated on 30th March 2015. I don’t want people to see me suffering and  don’t want my children to remember me as I am now. This is my choice, rather than theirs.

The first signs of my illness were that my speech became very slurred and when I spoke on my mobile the listener could not understand me. I also began to experience difficulty in walking, writing and with other tasks.

In 2014, I was diagnosed with the incurable illness, Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), by consultants at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London. Now I am largely confined to my bed, have to wear a catheter bag and need help with all my personal care. My speech has deteriorated and the muscle weakness continues apace.

I tried to end my life by taking an overdose in 2015, but I failed! I don’t have the ability to take my own life anymore and I don’t want to botch it up again anyway.

The current law on assisted dying in the UK

The last word on the law  was spoken by the Supreme Court in June 2014. After Tony Nicklinson died, his wife Jane (and another claimant, Paul Lamb) took a case to the Supreme Court challenging the ban on assisted dying in England. Judgement was given on 14th June 2014. The majority of the Court decided that, that while they did have the legal power to consider the ban, Parliament should have the opportunity to consider the issue first.

Parliament’s view

  • Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill - House of Lords, defeated in 2014. 
  • Assisted dying Bill (No 2) - House of Commons defeated  in September 2016  338-118 votes.
  • A further Assisted Dying Bill is to be debated in the House of Lords- no date for the second reading.

Why not wait for the new Bill?

All 3 of the recent Bills deal with a small category of people: those with a terminal illness and 6 months or less to live.  I am not terminally ill- although my life is shortened by the illness. A change like this would not help me.

Lord Neuberger was right in the Supreme Court when he said:

"There seems to me to be significantly more justification in assisting people to die if they have the prospect of living for many years a life that they regarded as valueless, miserable and often painful, than if they have only a few months left to live” 

(Lord Neuberger, paragraph 122 in R (on the application of Nicklinson and another) v Ministry of Justice  [2014] UKSC 38).

In the meantime, people in my situation continue to suffer.

Some believe that a change in the law is inevitable. Leading ethicist, Professor Savulescu, says:

“I think it’s only a matter of time before people have control over the time and manner in which they die.”

My case differs from Noel Conway’s case

You may have heard about the case of Mr Noel Conway. My case differs from that of Mr Conway,  who is ONLY asking for a change in the law for people with a terminal illness with 6 months or fewer to live so that they may have assistance to end their lives.

The difference between terminal illness and incurable illness

I don't have a terminal illness. MSA is an incurable illness which means that, although my life expectancy is shortened, I could still live for many years to come. There are many other conditions like this, such as Multiple Sclerosis, Locked in Syndrome, Motor Neurone Disease and so on.

In my view, there is no moral or legal justification for drawing the line at terminal illness or 6 months or fewer to live.  This would not have helped Debbie Purdy, Tony Nicklinson or me or many others who are begging for help to end our lives at a time of our choosing without pain in a dignified way.

Protecting the  weak and vulnerable if the law is changed

I wholeheartedly agree that vulnerable people should be protected.  Safeguards can be devised by the law.  They have done it in other countries.

But am I not a vulnerable person whose rights should be respected? My right not to live a life of pain and wretchedness? 

What will raising funds help me to achieve?

  1. Challenging the law is complicated and will take up hundreds of hours of work, will involve court fees, the cost of getting experts on board and travel costs. It's a lot of work  - if we are going to succeed this time, we need your help.  I have the most experienced  and best legal team I could possibly have.  They worked for Debbie, Tony and Paul Lamb too. My team consists of Saimo Chahal QC (hon) who is a solicitor at Bindmans LLP and is a top human rights lawyer. My barrister is Paul Bowen QC of Brick Court Chambers. Together, they represented Debbie Purdy and Tony Nicklinson as well. Jennifer Macleod, also of Brick Court Chambers, is the junior barrister in this case.

  2. The case will have to be run along the lines of the Carter v (Attorney General) Canada case which was successful but only because the court could hear evidence over 4 weeks with all views represented and tested. That is the only way we will win. It’s very big case. Don’t underestimate how much time and work this is going to be. 

The next steps in my case

The first stage is to prepare the evidence and get a letter out to the government to set out the legal case. This will involve the following:

  • Gathering evidence from doctors about what this involves, from experts overseas about what happens in other European countries where it is legal;
  • Evidence about how to avoid any harm to the vulnerable and how safeguards operate;
  • Sending a letter before claim setting out the legal case;
  • Considering the reply from the Government
  • Preparing the documents to issue the proceedings;
  • Getting  an order so that no one can contact or reveal my wife or children’s identity as I don’t want them to be hurt or involved.

I will keep you updated on the further stages after we get the case off the ground.

I really need your support. I cannot do it without you.  Think about what you would want – should you ever be in my situation. Please help!

Detailed grounds

April 19, 2017

Since we last updated you - we would like to share the Detailed Grounds which were served on the government when we issued my claim. The Grounds can be found here. I do not wish the press to have details of the home in which I am living or details of my family so my surname and address and other confidential details have been removed.

The government was due to reply last Friday, but have asked for an extension of time which my lawyer has agreed to until Friday 24th April. We have asked the government to agree that the case should proceed to the second stage - where the Judicial Review proceedings can then proceed with the permission of the court. We will know this Friday if they agree to this. If not there will have to be a hearing and the court will decide whet here thee is an arguable case in law.

We need to start preparing the evidence and my lawyers have prepared my statements and legal authorities and are preparing for the permission hearing if the government does not agree to permission. We have a provisional date for the hearing scheduled in May.

I am so very touched and grateful for all the support up until now. Please help me now to reach my target so effective preparations can be made for the hearing if permission is not agreed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I will let you know what the next stage of work will be after we know the governments' response.

Update from Omid and his Legal Team

April 5, 2017

It has been another busy week behind the scenes on Omid’s case. Omid’s legal team has worked hard to spread the word of his case amongst various networks. Omid’s supporter base is, of course, essential to his case’s success and we are glad to report that Omid has met his initial target, having now raised £11,075.  However, the case will be a long and complex one, so your support remains invaluable as the case moves forward into the next stages.

Over the last week, Omid’s legal team has been in contact with several important expert and lay witnesses for the case, and has been busy preparing their statements for court.

Then on Monday, Omid gave a further interview to video journalist Thomas Brada, which will soon be publicised by media outlets. There have been several further press enquiries, as the significance of Omid’s case is gradually being realised.

Moreover, Omid has this week gained the backing of some significant organisations supporting the ‘right to die’. Following on from My Death, My Decision’s publication last week (https://www.mydeath-mydecision.org.uk/new-legal-challenge-assisted-dying/), the British Humanist Association yesterday announced its support for Omid’s case (https://humanism.org.uk/2017/04/04/bha-backs-omids-challenge-to-legalise-assisted-dying/). BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented:

Omid’s case speaks so powerfully to the way in which the law, as it stands, denies individuals the dignity and autonomy to choose to end their life and avoid needless pain and suffering. We therefore strongly support his claim to challenge the law, and look forward to working with him to try and ensure he succeeds.

Omid himself said:

I am very pleased that the BHA is supporting my case – I wholeheartedly welcome their support. This is such a significant legal challenge – it will, if successful, help thousands of humanists to realise their ambition of being able to have a dignified death, when life has dealt us a bad hand with a cruel and debilitating disease and it is too painful and unbearable to live

Omid’s legal team is working toward the next court date, which will follow the delivery of the Secretary of State’s written arguments by 13 April. There will, of course, be much more work to follow, to which your support is invaluable. Please keep the word of Omid’s case buzzing in your social networks, so that Omid and others in his position have the chance to obtain a #dignifieddeath.

Legal update on Omid's case

March 30, 2017

You may have seen that Noel Conway’s case has just been refused permission to proceed. We are writing to make sure you know what is happening, separately, with Omid's case.

The court has now set a timetable for Omid's case to be heard for permission, and we are waiting for a hearing date. We have considered the judgement refusing permission in Noel Conway’s case and this tells us the arguments we now need to address.

Nonetheless, it bears emphasising that today's outcome for Noel Conway is unfortunate, at the very least. Omid had the following reaction to the refusal of permission in Noel Conway’s case:

"This is disappointing. Surely, we can make people understand sooner or later that the misery people like us are suffering is cruel and inhumane. I have done nothing to deserve this. Where is the justification for the degrading treatment we are subjected to?"

It is even more important now that Omid’s case is alive and well, and that it stays that way.  Omid cannot do this without your support, so please donate now and spread the word!

Update from Omid and his Legal Team

March 28, 2017

It has been a week since Omid launched this crowdfunding page in support of his bid to change the UK’s laws on assisted dying.  In that week, there has been a flurry of activity – but support is still needed!  Omid still needs more than £7,000 to reach his initial target – please consider making a pledge to this vital legal challenge!  It is not just for him and would change the law to benefit thousands of other people.

Tuesday, 21 March

  • Members of Omid’s legal team appeared in the Administrative Court seeking Permission for the case to proceed and directions  so that the courts can consider the right to die for people with incurable conditions – not only terminal illnesses.  Judgment was reserved by the court, but is expected any day now.
  • ‘My Death, My Decision’ (‘MDMD’) shared news of Omid’s case on its website (https://www.mydeath-mydecision.org.uk/new-legal-challenge-assisted-dying/).  MDMD expressed support for the broader principle argued for in Omid’s case, stating that “we do not believe the 6 month criterion can be anything more than a first step in our campaign” and encouraging its followers to support Omid.
  • The Law Society Gazette also featured an article on the case, pointing to its ground-breaking nature (https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/right-to-die-claim-will-test-ambiguity-of-past-judgments/5060345.article).

Support for Omid’s case continued to flow in via the Crowdjustice page through the week and into the weekend. 

Monday, 27 March

“I just want to thank Omid for continuing what Debbie and Tony started. It takes a great deal of courage to challenge our legal system. This is such an important issue that will not go away…

We must ensure that people who find themselves in a position similar to Tony and Omid have a way out of the life that will undoubtedly become unbearable. Nobody should have to suffer as Tony did. This could happen to any one of us and until you find yourself, or someone you love, in such a position it is hard to understand how the life you have is a living hell.”

This week, the focus on getting the word out to even more people. Please help Omid to do this by sharing a short message to your friends and family via Twitter, Facebook and email, with the hashtag #dignifieddeath and a link to this page (https://www.crowdjustice.org/case/dignified-death/ or https://tinyurl.com/l965upf).  Thank you for your support of Omid’s case!

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