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Though some form of assisted dying and/or euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Columbia, Oregon, Washington and Montana, and tragic cases in Britain continue to be reported, progress towards a more civilised Britain is appallingly slow.
Patricia Bell was the county archivist of Bedfordshire between 1968 and 1986 and edited the Bedfordshire Historical Record Society’s publications between 1977 and 1991.
The Mail reports that, after making two previous suicide attempts, Ms Bell, who was suffering ‘a great deal of pain’ from breast cancer and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011, was found dead in a pond. At the inquest evidence was given that she had begun to worry that she might ‘end up in a home’.
In an official obituary published in the Guardian, Ms Bell’s close friend Richard Wildman said: ‘Her greatest fear was that she would emulate some of her cousins and live to an extreme and uncomfortable old age’.
A good servant of the state?
Was it an attempt to maintain the status quo that made deputy coroner Bob Amos record an open verdict, despite reading the letters from friends and hearing the words from her carer about her attempts to take her own life?
Parliament should take long overdue action and set aside the need of the powerful ‘health/care’ industry for clients and the Christian right’s desire to impose religious inhibitions on the majority who do not share them – then legislate for well-regulated assisted dying for those who want and need it.