Nikki and Merv Kenward press on after loss

20 January 2017

The Christian Legal Centre’s Roger Kiska announces that the Nikki and Merv Kenward press on after loss.
This week in the Royal Courts of Justice, Lord Justices Longmore and Kitchen heard the motion of Nikki and Merv Kenward challenging the Director of Public Prosecutions’ loosening of its guidelines regarding prosecuting healthcare professionals who are complicit in assisted-suicide. The Kenwards lost before the Court of Appeal, but their arguments should have been heard and respected. The Kenwards are different; they love life despite Nikki’s disability and they will fight on despite any obstacles.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Nikki and Merv Kenward are examining all legal means available to them in order to continue their fight on behalf of the millions of vulnerable UK citizens who could be victimised by liberalised assisted-suicide laws.

Nikki Kenward contracted the Guillain-Barré Syndrome virus shortly after she and her husband Merv married. It is a condition where the body’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system. The virus left her is a condition where she was only able to blink one eye. Her lengthy hospital stay and her unlikely recovery taught both Nikki and Merv a great deal about life, death and the questions surrounding end of life decisions. That journey made them realise how easy it would have been for an uncaring hospital bureaucracy or grieving family members to opt for death rather than life.

They represent the personal side of a case that ultimately may have serious consequences from the most vulnerable in British society. At the core of this case is the fact that the DPP relaxing its guidelines is an incremental step towards adopting assisted suicide. And European history has shown that once adopted, doctor-prescribed death escapes regulation and the circumstances in which it is allowed grows rapidly and exponentially. Examples abound:

In Switzerland, once doctor prescribed death was adopted, the instances of assisted suicide grew an astonishing 700 percent in just 10 years. In the Netherlands, instances of unreported involuntary euthanasia are rampant. That means the death of patients who have not given their consent to die: our mothers and fathers, our grandparents, and our disabled. The courts in the Netherlands have now even extended assisted suicide to cases involving depression, even where no physical suffering is present. And in Belgium, only 2 years ago, they legalised child euthanasia and assisted suicide. That means a child who is too young to smoke, drink, vote, or hire a car can voluntarily end his or her life.

Before the Court of Appeal, the Kenwards had sought to argue that the decision of the DPP in October 2014 to re-define the meaning of being ‘in the care of a health profession’ would have profound consequences for the principle of the sanctity of life, opening the door to motivated campaigners and ideologically driven doctors to provide services of death because of the loosening of the guidelines. 

The Court of Appeal rejected this argument saying that the DPP can formulate policy in opposition to the Attorney General and, implicitly, Parliamentary supervision.

As the law rapidly becomes inconsistent, campaigners for euthanasia will launch more and more challenges. Most recently, Noel Conway is seeking a human right to kill himself with medical assistance before the Court, despite the fact that Parliament voted down Rob Marris’ Bill on Assisted Suicide in 2015.

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, commented:

“Nikki Kenward is a living example of why doctor-prescribed death should be prosecuted with impunity. While disappointing, this Court of Appeal ruling is not the end. Nikki, together with the Christian Legal Centre, will continue this battle. We will not rest until the threat of euthanasia for our most vulnerable citizens here in the UK is eradicated. We need care, not killing.” 

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