Skip to content

UK court clears 80-year-old accused of 'mercy killing' her husband

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

By CNA News
9/20/2019 (3 weeks ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

Family members of an 80-year-old woman in England are advocating for legalized assisted suicide after the woman was found not guilty by a U.K. court in an apparent "mercy killing" of her husband

Pills assisted suicide

Pills assisted suicide

Highlights

By CNA News
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
9/20/2019 (3 weeks ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: ASSISTED SUICIDE, LONDON, ENGLAND, EUROPE


London, England, (CNA) - Family members of an 80-year-old woman in England are advocating for legalized assisted suicide after the woman was found not guilty by a U.K. court in an apparent "mercy killing" of her husband.

Mavis Eccleston, 80, was accused of killing her husband Dennis, 81, with a lethal dose of prescription medicine.

Prosecutors claimed that Mavis had done so without Dennis' knowledge or permission.

But, according to the BBC, Mavis told jurors at the Stafford Crown Court that she and her husband had both intended to take their lives with the medication, and that they had decided to do so after Dennis' diagnosis of terminal cancer.

The couple was found in their apartment by family members on Feb. 19, 2018, after they had taken the drugs. The couple was rushed to the hospital and given an antidote to the medication. Mavis survived; Dennis did not.

After the hearing, Joy Munns, a daughter of Dennis and Mavis, called for the legalization of assisted suicide "so that dying people aren't forced to suffer, make plans in secret or ask loved ones to risk prosecution by helping them," the BBC reported.

Both euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are illegal under U.K. law. According to the U.K.'s National Health Service, euthanasia could be prosecuted as murder or manslaughter and carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, while physician-assisted suicide carries with it a maximum punishment of 14 years imprisonment.

In 2015 the U.K. parliament rejected a bill that would have legalized assisted suicide for patients with a terminal diagnosis, by a vote of 330 to 118.

The U.K.'s Suicide Act 1961 was challenged in High Court in 2017 by a terminally ill man, Noel Conway, who wanted a doctor to be able to prescribe him a lethal dose. His case was dismissed.

Some disability groups in the U.K. and throughout the world have argued against legalized physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia, saying that such legislation would put vulnerable populations such as the elderly, physically disabled and mentally ill at risk for coercion.

The Catholic Church teaches that assisted suicide and euthanasia are a violation of the dignity of all human life, and therefore morally impermissible.

"Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible. Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable," the Catechism of the Catholic Church states.

"Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded," it adds.

The Catechism similarly states that suicide or the cooperation in suicide is morally unacceptable, though it notes that: "We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives."

In the recent U.K. hearing, Mavis told jurors that her husband wanted to end his life after receiving a terminal diagnosis of bowel cancer. He had stopped treatment except for pain management medication, and he had reportedly talked about going to Switzerland to take advantage of legal assisted suicide in the country.

The couple decided to end their lives together with a lethal dose of medication, and reportedly wrote a note to their family explaining their decision.

According to the BBC, Mavis said she handed the medicine to her husband before taking it herself, and that Dennis "knew full well" what he was doing as he gave himself the medicine.

Mavis said after she took the medicine herself, she kissed her husband and covered him before lying down, and remembers nothing else until she woke up in the hospital.

One of the couple's children said outside of the courthouse that while they were "grateful and relieved" for the court's ruling of not guilty, they said that if there "had been an assisted dying law here in the UK our dad would have been able to have the choice to end his suffering, with medical support, and with his loved ones around him."

The case is similar to a 2017 case in which an English chemist was cleared after administering lethal drugs to his 85-year-old father, who had reportedly wanted to die. A judge at the time ruled that the chemist's actions "were acts of pure compassion and mercy."

---


'Help Give every Student and Teacher FREE resources for a world-class Moral Catholic Education'


Copyright 2019 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK


Comments


More Europe

Polish bishops open beatification process for parents of St John Paul II Watch

Image of John Paul II's father, Karol Wojtyla, and mother, Emilia nee Kaczorowska

The Polish bishops' conference has agreed to begin the canonization process for the parents of Saint John Paul II. Krakow, Poland, (CNA) - ... continue reading


Disabled woman who narrowly avoided forced abortion to get forced contraception Watch

Image of Royal Courts of Justice London

A judge in England has decided that a disabled woman who is pregnant will be fitted with a contraceptive device immediately following her ... continue reading



'Useless to pretend': Vatican official dismisses German 'binding synodal path' Watch

Image of German bishop

A senior legal official in the Vatican has dismissed the idea that a planned "synodal process" in Germany will be "binding," noting that ... continue reading


English bishop: Remove stigma surrounding mental health care Watch

Image of Sad person

On October 10, observed internationally as World Mental Health Day, Bishop Richard Moth of Arundel and Brighton said that society should ... continue reading


Vatican: Pope Francis 'never said' what Scalfari reported about divinity of Jesus Christ Watch

Image of Briefing about Amazon synod at Holy See Press Paolo Ruffini

A Vatican spokesman directly denied on Thursday the report of an Italian journalist who wrote that Pope Francis said he did not believe ... continue reading


Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.