Debbie Purdy, a British right-to die activist, died of complications from Multiple Sclerosis at the Marie Curie Hospice in Bradford on December 23rd. She was 51 years old.
According to a report from the Independent, Purdy’s husband, Cuban jazz violinist Omar Puente, confirmed his wife’s passing.
“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,” he said.
Debbie Purdy was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 31, shortly after meeting her husband in Singapore in 1995.
Over the past few years her condition had deteriorated, and she was unable to leave her home. She couldn’t leave her bed unless she was assisted by a nurse.
The BBC reported it is believed Purdy was refusing food at the facility where she lived during the last weeks of her life, as a means of ending her life. She was unable to afford to travel abroad to an assisted dying clinic.
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) December 29, 2014
It was back in 2008 when Debbie Purdy began her battle to make the laws surrounding assisted suicide clearer. She tried to determine whether or not her husband could be prosecuted for helping her to die. But the High Court and the Court of Appeal refused to say he would not be. She did win a huge legal victory the following year, however, when guidelines on assisted suicide were published by the UK government.
In the United States just this past fall, Brittany Maynard, who suffered from an incurable brain tumor, ended her own life by consuming a cocktail of doctor-prescribed medications. She and her husband and parents moved from California to Oregon because assisted suicide isn’t illegal there. Debbie Purdy, being in the UK, had no such immediately available option.