Tag Archives: Dignitas

The Right to Choose……

1 Apr

‘Regular readers will doubtless know my feelings on the right to self-determination when it comes to assisted suicide.  Well, yet again, another terminally ill man has to suffer the indignity and stress of fighting the British Courts on top of being in an unimaginable position……’

The case of Noel Conway, 67, from Shrewsbury, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease more than two years ago and fears being “entombed” in his own body as his ability to move declines, is the latest to reach the High Court.  He is not expected to survive beyond the next 12 months.

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Noel Conway

It is  completely understandable that people in Noel’s position fear the indignity, pain, inability to communicate and all of the unimaginable horrors that come towards the end of life as the disease progresses.  To have the added distress of having to fight a court battle, when all he is requesting a peaceful death when the disease becomes intolerable, seems cruel and totally unecessary.  We have the medicines required to bring about this ending painlessly when the time comes.

The legal arguments against assisted suicide always seem to come back to the same thing; that relatives will ‘push’ a terminally ill person to prematurely end their lives for some spurious reason, or that the person feels they will become a burden as the disease progresses.  It has been demonstrated in countries which allow assisted suicide that with the right checks and balances in place this is almost impossible.   I know of no instances where relatives or carers have been prosecuted in such situations.  In independent polls a large majority agree that it should be an option.

There are options available to some, but only if their condition and financial status allow.  Dignitas, Switzerland, are one organisation that can arrange a peaceful death for sufferers of incurable, degenerative diseases, however, the cost involved (approximately £10,000) is prohibitive for some.  For others, their condition makes travel impossible, denying access to the service.

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Established 1998

The unfortunate inability of our courts to legalise assisted suicide has led to despairing people taking things into their own hands which can cause more suffering or, in the worst case scenario, a prosecution.

Death is not something to be feared.  The idea that your place in Heaven will be lost is  nothing more than the remnants of outdated superstition.  When you are dead you are effectively in the same ‘place’ you were before you were born; and anyway, surely a loving ‘god’ will understand your need to end your pain.

It is time we removed the superstition and hysteria from the argument and listened to common sense, ended the anguish and suffering of those people who find themselves in the unfortunate position of having an intolerable illness and placed assisted suicide on the statute books.  It is a sick irony that we don’t allow animals to sufifer but our fellow brothers and sisters are allowed to suffer…….

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Dignitas……

14 Jun

I would like to congratulate Sir Terry Pratchett & the BBC for making such a well informed & moving documentary about Dignitas & the valuable contribution they have made in helping people who are faced with the unimaginable prospect of suffering deteriorating health.  It is however, a shame that people have to travel toSwitzerlandto have their wishes met & that the cost of this is around £10,000 which, to many is simply beyond their means.

In today’s news the claims of the anti-assisted dying lobby were that the program was biased & failed to give a balanced view of the alternative palliative care available.  However, there have been a number of recent documentaries about palliative care, one of which focused on patients who wanted to die at home & demonstrated the distress caused to both the patient & their relatives due to inadequate pain management & the sporadic visits made by the healthcare professionals.

The subject of assisted dying is difficult to legislate for & the concerns that are frequently raised are legitimate.  However, when taken on a case by case basis I believe any form of coercion could easily be identified.

It should be the choice of the individual when & where they die.  Should they choose to end their suffering in a painless and dignified manner they should not have to pay thousands of pounds and have to travel thousands of miles to do so.  Our own law, although stating it is illegal to assist a suicide, already negates prosecution providing the motive is born out of love & care.  We just need to take the final step in legalizing assisted dying.  For some people who are not able to access the services of Dignitas the consequences can be far worse for all concerned than it would be if legislation was in place, should you find yourself in that position.

We need a proper debate & we need it now.  Ask yourself the question “What would I want?”…….