Monday, January 25, 2010

British Mom Found Not Guilty of Assisting Daughter's Suicide.

Today Bridget Kathleen Gilderdale of Britain was declared not guilty in the suicide of her ill daughter.

If you want to hear a story that makes you question all the religiously-inflected laws in this country, all the ideas of the "culture of death," all the supposed humanity behind the pro-life activism we saw this week during the March for Life on DC - with it's images of surgeries and fetus-shaped potatoes and euphemisms for vulnerability, murder, martyrdom, compassion and liberty, with it's work to enforce laws that decide when your life begins and ends and when you have children, that invades your examination room privacy, that defines women by their fertility and refuses to trust their judgement, that imposes religious doctrine via law and calls it "traditional values," that works to define Terri Schiavo as severely disabled, her husband "estranged," her life and yours in their hands: read this:

After the jury had delivered its verdict, Mr Justice Bean said: "I do not normally comment on the verdicts of juries but in this case their decision, if I may say so, shows common sense, decency and humanity which makes jury trials so important in a case of this kind.

"There is no dispute that you were a caring and loving mother and that you considered that you were acting in the best interests of your daughter."

Earlier prosecutor Sally Howes was asked by Mr Justice Bean "why it was considered to be in the public interest" to pursue Gilderdale on the attempted murder charge when she had pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting suicide.

Ben Ando, BBC crime reporter

A slight figure with auburn, medium-length hair, spectacles and in plain, dark clothing, there was nothing remarkable about middle-aged divorcee Bridget Kathleen Gilderdale until she took her place in the dock in Lewes Crown Court.

Gilderdale, who is known as Kay, had listened intently to the legal argument and evidence during the 10 days of her trial though, as is her right, she had declined to enter the witness box herself and give evidence in her own defence.

After hearing both prosecution and defence agree that she was a devoted, loving mother who had shown unstinting care for her daughter over 17 years, the jury was quick to return a verdict of not guilty of attempted murder.

Another count, of aiding and abetting suicide, had been admitted by Gilderdale and for this she received a 12-month conditional discharge, among the most lenient sentences the judge could impose.

Ms Howes said the prosecution decided at "the highest level" to try Gilderdale after she told her GP and police she had given her daughter an air embolism with the intent to end her life.

Because a post-mortem examination found that Miss Gilderdale had died of a morphine overdose, her mother was not charged with murder but with attempted murder.

Following the trial Gilderdale's son, Steve, read out a statement on the steps of the court flanked by his mother and father, which praised the verdict.

He said: "We believe this not guilty verdict properly reflects the selfless actions my mother took on finding that Lynn had decided to take her own life, to make her daughter's final moments as peaceful and painless as possible.

"These actions exhibit the same qualities of dedication, love and care that mum demonstrated throughout the 17 years of Lynn's illness.

"I'm very proud of her and I hope she will be afforded the peace that she deserves to rebuild her life and finally grieve for the death of her daughter."

Jurors were told that after Miss Gilderdale made a failed suicide bid her mother crushed up pills with a pestle and mortar and fed them to her through her nasal tube, handed her morphine and injected three syringes of air into her vein.

Lynn Gilderdale
Lynn Gilderdale developed ME at the age of 14

The court was told the 55-year-old tried to stop her daughter ending her life but backed down after she told her: "I want the pain to go."

More from the Telegraph. And from the Guardian.

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