Right-to-die British woman dies at hospice


May 12 2002 at 07:37PM

London - Diane Pretty, who fought a long and unsuccessful legal battle for the right to have her husband help her commit suicide, has died, her family said Sunday. She was 43.

Pretty, who suffered from motor neuron disease, died Saturday at a hospice near her home in central England, her husband Brian said. She had been experiencing breathing difficulties for several days.

Pretty, whose illness left her paralysed from the neck down and confined to a wheelchair, fought in the British courts for her husband to be guaranteed immunity from prosecution if he helped her die.

After her case was defeated in Britain's highest court, she took it to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Two weeks ago, a panel of European judges agreed with the British courts.

Pretty had said she wanted the right to take her own life because she feared a slow and painful death from asphyxiation.

On Sunday, Brian Pretty said his wife "had to go through the one thing she had foreseen and was afraid of - and there was nothing I could do to help."

Now, he said, she was "free at last."

Pretty is survived by her husband and two children. Funeral arrangements were not immediately available.