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UK Right to Die campaigner Deby Purdy dies

Right-to-die campaigner Debbie Purdy, who won a landmark ruling to clarify the law on assisted suicide, has died. The 51-year-old from Bradford had lived with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) for almost 20 years. Ms Purdy  died on 23 December in London’s Marie Curie Hospice.

In 2009, she won a ruling to get clarification on whether her husband Omar Puente would be prosecuted if he helped her to end her life.

Lord Falconer, the former lord chancellor and submitter of the UK Bill on assisted dying, said Ms Purdy’s role as a campaigner against the law on assisted suicide was “absolutely key” and she had transformed the debate.

Nick Triggle, BBC Health Correspondent:

Debbie Purdy’s landmark legal victory did not result in a change in the law but it forced the authorities to clarify what the legislation meant in practice. Ms Purdy had sought assurance over whether her husband would be prosecuted if he helped her end her life. In 2009 five Law Lords ruled the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) must specify when a person might face prosecution for helping someone end their life. Former DPP Keir Starmer went on to publish new guidelines in 2010.

But it still remains an offence to encourage or assist a suicide or a suicide attempt in England and Wales.

Ms Purdy’s condition deteriorated significantly because of which she was unable to go through with her plan to travel to Dignitas, the Swiss assisted-suicide organisation.