Tags: debbie purdy | dies | british | right-to-die | advocate

Debbie Purdy Dies: British Right-to-Die Advocate Was 51

By    |   Tuesday, 30 Dec 2014 08:47 AM

Debbie Purdy, one of Britain's most outspoken right-to-die advocates, passed away last week after spending a year at Marie Curie Hospice while suffering from multiple sclerosis. She was 51.

Purdy won a ruling in 2009 for clarification on whether her husband Omar Puente would be prosecuted if he helped her in an assisted suicide, publicly opening up the debate over right-to-die issues in Great Britain, according to BBC News. Her victory in court led to new guidelines on assisted suicide, reported The Herald.

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of the organization Dignity in Dying, called Purdy a "valued campaigner and friend."

"Debbie wanted choice and control over her death should she consider her suffering unbearable," Wootton told the Herald. "Ultimately she was seeking peace of mind that her wishes would be respected, but also crucially that her decisions would not result in the potential imprisonment of her husband."

Puente said Purdy was "a much loved wife, sister, aunt and friend."

"We would like to thank the Marie Curie Hospice in Bradford for the care the staff gave her, which allowed her last year to be as peaceful and dignified as she wished," Puente added in a statement.

Purdy's attorney Lord Pannick told BBC News that while his client dealt with her own pain, the cause of assisted suicide remained a high priority.

"Her body was already afflicted terribly by this awful disease, she was in a wheelchair, she was in great pain for much of the time," said Pannick. "But I don't think I have represented a more energetic client in my professional career."

Purdy contemplated traveling to the Digitas clinic in Switzerland to end her life in 2010, noted The Herald. She argued that not knowing if her husband would be prosecuted if he traveled with her to the Swiss clinic would be a violation of her human rights.

BBC News said her deteriorating condition from MS prevented her from traveling to Switzerland and she entered hospice in December 2013, refusing food intermittently.

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Debbie Purdy, one of Britain's most outspoken right-to-die advocates, passed away last week after spending a year at Marie Curie Hospice while suffering from multiple sclerosis. She was 51.
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Tuesday, 30 Dec 2014 08:47 AM
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