Assisted Dying 4: legislation forces people to travel abroad in order to have a peaceful death
One of the ‘GenerationNext’ with great potential – Coventry University student Kate Green – has been doing some research for a presentation on how we should have right to end our own lives through assisted suicide when suffering with a degenerative disease.
One finding we repeat: Dignitas’ stated aim is that no one should be forced to travel abroad in order to have the simple basic human right of a peaceful death. Read more here.
When Silvan Luley of Dignitas read about multiple sclerosis sufferer Carol Hutchins, who threw herself into a canal and drowned because she could not afford to travel to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland to end her life, he wrote to PCU: “What a sad story! What a disgrace for the UK legal system and politicians!”
Misleading media coverage
He pointed out that the “Mail Online” – and some other papers – call Dignitas a “clinic” whereas in fact it is a small help-to-live and right-to-die non-profit NGO.
Such reporting misleads the public as it evokes ideas of a hospital or hospice with wards, doctors and nurses and has led to people actually turning up without prior notice because they believed the nonsense of the “Dignitas euthanasia clinic” – some of them in quite deplorable state of health. They have had to be sent back home right away, as there is a preparation procedure to follow which takes some time – distressing for them and for Dignitas.
Another mistake by the Mail Online was to show a picture of 5-storey building stating under the picture: “Controversial: The Dignitas clinic in Switzerland” but that building does not belong to Dignitas.
The Dignitas building
Better media coverage
Here is a link to Terry Pratchett’s BBC documentary – a good programme in which many were able to see part of the doctor’s consultations, the procedure followed and the Dignitas building, though of course it did not show much of the lengthy preparation which includes registering as a member, obtaining medical reports and sending a formal request to be assessed.
Mr Luley comments:” We have already written to numerous newspapers about this problem but they mostly seem to be too dumb to take responsibility for the rubbish that they print….”. He concludes:
Still, the story is heartbreaking and it puts its finger on a severe problem: the problem that people who want to have a dignified self-determined end in life need to travel abroad. No one should be forced to travel abroad in order to have the simple basic human right of a peaceful death! Everyone should have this right at his/her very home, to pass away peacefully in their own bed, surrounded by loved ones.
NOTE: Dignitas’ submission to Lord Falconer’s Commission on Assisted Dying is well worth reading as it presents their approach and philosophy.