An Australian high court ruled Friday that Christian Rossiter has the right to refuse food and water.
An Australian high court ruled Friday that a quadriplegic man has the right to refuse food and water and can be allowed to die, a rare legal finding that some see as a major victory for right-to-die campaigners.
The ruling means that the nursing facility in which Christian Rossiter has lived since November 2008 cannot be held criminally liable for allowing the patient to die, the Supreme Court of Western Australia said.
"I'm happy that I won my right to die," Rossiter, 49, said afterward. But he added that he will further consult with a doctor because he may change his mind.
A leading Australian right-to-die advocate called the ruling a significant victory.
"I don't know that many people will want to die this way. But for people who do, it's a very important decision," said Dr. Philip Nitschke, founder and director of Exit International, a leading global voluntary euthanasia and end-of-life advocacy group.
Nitschke noted that Rossiter's case is significant because his mind is fully functional.
"This is the first time that it's come up with a person that's rational and lucid," Nitschke told CNN. "This is unusual. It's very rare."
Chief Justice Wayne Martin noted that distinction in his order, saying, "Mr. Rossiter is not a child, nor is he terminally ill, nor dying. He is not in a vegetative state, nor does he lack the capacity to communicate his wishes. There is therefore no question of other persons making decisions on his behalf.
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