On Tuesday 21st of May we held our most successful AGM to date. Nearly 500 members attended the event at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre to hear from a range of speakers from different areas of the assisted dying debate.
With Vermont becoming the latest US state to legalise assisted dying only last week, and a swell of support for a similar law in France, this was the UK’s contribution towards a growing movement of people who are demanding a more compassionate approach to end of life care and choice.
Momentum for change
During the first part of the day the audience heard from Sarah Wootton, Dignity in Dying CEO, who discussed the incredible progress made by the campaign in the past year – including gaining 1000 new members since January.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton QC then introduced his Assisted Dying Bill to the audience, outlining the strict safeguards built in to protect vulnerable people and reinforcing the fact that the Bill only applies to terminally ill, mentally competent adults.
As the campaign has grown a number of groups representing particular sections of society have been set up to make their voices heard.
Speaking at the AGM were:
- Professor Ray Tallis, former Chair of the Committee on Ethical Issues in Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians , and chair of HPAD (Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying). Ray talked about overcoming opposition in the medical profession and the support from a number of eminent medical professionals who are beginning to make their voices heard.
- Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, who talked about Inter Faith leaders for Dignity in Dying and its efforts to represent the vast majority of the religious public who we know support assisted dying.
- Greg Judge , disabled campaigner and spinal injuries charity trustee. Greg talked about his plans to build a grass roots campaign for disabled supporters to put forward a positive case for assisted dying. He pointed out that the majority of people with a disability (75%) support assisted dying , that it was time to combat opposition which is often based on “fear rather than facts” and that we should “work together for the empowerment and civil rights of all people whether they have a disability or not”.
- Jean Luc Romero, French politician, writer and NGO leader, closed this year’s AGM with an extremely informative, and at times amusing, speech about the large swell of support for greater choice at the end of life in France. You can read his speech here.
Act Against Suffering
A key message from this year’s AGM was how vital all of our supporters are going to be in campaigning for the Assisted Dying Bill.
To learn about the strategy of the campaign we heard from James Harris, Director of Campaigns and Communications, and Davina Heir, Director of Legal Strategy and Policy, for Dignity in Dying. Both speakers urged the crowd to give as much of their time as possible in support of the campaign.
2013 is a year where can make real progress to end unnecessary suffering at the end of life and your support will make a real difference.
If you would like more information on how you can support the campaign please sign up to receive our e-mails.
We will be contacting supporters directly in the coming months to inform them of when and how your support is most vital.