For those who know me, it is no secret what my position is on matters of life and death. I embrace science and within reason the extraordinary lengths we can now go to, to save someone’s life. At the same time I am equally unequivocal about the right to die, the right to die with dignity and the right for someone who chooses to assist someone else to die not to be prosecuted.
Following the coverage on the BBC yesterday, and in particular Tanni Grey-Thompson’s contribution, I got rather cross and started writing a long and rambling thing about what I thought about the debate itself. It didn’t lead anywhere as I felt too emotional in the moment. So I left it. On reflection, all I wanted to say at the end of the day was this:
In a 5 Live radio segment about end of life measures and the right to suicide assisters not to be prosecuted, both the presenter and another panellist tried to engage Tanni Grey-Thompson in an opinion about what safeguards should/could be in place and would they make any difference in her opinion about assisted suicide? In true politician style she waffled on until she finally had to say, no, no safeguards could ever make a difference and in principal she opposes assisted suicide. Nothing wrong with that of course, she is entitled to her opinion. But why had she inserted herself into yesterday’s debate? Why is the media not choosing people on the opposite sides of the assisted suicide argument who are actually willing to have the DEBATE? I disagree with T G-Ts opinion, but I have no doubt that she would have a contribution to make in terms of what the safeguards should be WERE the laws of this land to be relaxed. Surely saying NO NO NO doesn’t help anyone, not least those she purports to defend and support. More and more people travel abroad to take control of the end, and the ending of, their life. Sadly, this more often than not is much sooner than it would otherwise have been if they were able to gain the same control back home. They have to be well enough to travel to somewhere like Switzerland. T G-T and fellow naysayers are in fact robbing people and their families of the most precious thing of all: Time. Quality time.
Fortunately I am not in a position where this matter is of pressing urgency, but I know that one day I could be a person hoping to afford a one way ticket to the Alps or to have a friend or a loved one willing to risk jail to help me in my hour of need.
Isn’t it time that the peers and parliamentarians who govern this country actually follow the wishes of their electors? If they did, assisted suicide would have been legalised years ago. Even a majority of those who regard themselves as religious, support assisted suicide, including nearly half of all Catholics. Why is this not reflected in parliament or in parliamentary action? Who made you the boss of me? Who are you to deny me CHOICE, DIGNITY, RESPECT?
Let us have the DEBATE and some action. Please.