Reader’s Letters: “We must consider the consequences of changing the law in assisted dying for the most vulnerable in society”

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Your article Great Gransden Dad Backing Calls for Assisted Dying (Hunts Post, January 29) presents one side of the emotive debate on assisted suicide.

With an aging population weighing heavily on our stretched NHS, the government and judiciary cannot keep kicking this issue into the long grass and relying on legislation set down 70 years ago. No doubt some of your readers will drag up images of Harold Shipman and his type who could abuse a relaxed policy but with the right controls in place we have to move forward.

If my dog contracts a terminal condition I can end her misery kindly. Why should she have more right than me?

Mike Humphrey Lib Dem District Councillor Huntingdon East

Hartford


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Your article Great Gransden Dad Backing Calls for Assisted Dying (Hunts Post, January 29) presents one side of the emotive debate on assisted suicide.

It is always difficult to hear about people suffering at the end of life. However, changing the law on assisted suicide would not just affect those people who say they want to end their life.

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Everyone will be affected. So we must consider the consequences of changing the law for the most vulnerable in society.

It is notable that not a single organisation of, or for, disabled people, or one representing people with long-term health conditions has campaigned for assisted suicide to be legalised, and indeed many actively opposed it in 2015.

We seem to have a double standard on suicide. When a healthy, non-disabled person wants to kill themselves, it is seen as a tragedy.

But when a person is disabled, it is often seen as rational and understandable that they would want to kill themselves.

As actress and disability activist Liz Carr says: "There is a fine line between those who are terminally ill and those who are disabled in public perception and the emotional power behind the campaign for assisted

suicide is based on misplaced pity.

"Rather than telling us we have everything to live for - and we do - we are helped to the proverbial cliff edge and offered a push."

As an organisation that campaigns on this issue, these are attitudes with which we are very familiar.

Dr Mark Blackwell, a former psychiatrist and SPUC member, was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2011.

In 2016 he underwent Deep Brain Stimulation surgery, and immediately after the operation had a severe stroke leaving the left side of his body paralysed and his speech impaired.

He says that at one time he did want to die, but then realised that the really important thing in his life - love - had not changed.

Dr Blackwell is strongly opposed to assisted suicide, saying that he is happy to be alive. "If assisted dying was legalised, it would make me feel like my life and suffering are a waste of time," he says.

"It would make me feel I am a burden for Eppie [his wife] and my children. I would lose respect for myself.

"I am lucky," he went on. "I have Eppie and my children to protect me. But I worry about what would happen to other people if the law was changed."

So do we.

Alithea Williams

Campaigns and Parliamentary

Assistant

Society for the Protection of

Unborn Children

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Email: editor@huntspost.co.uk.

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