A letter by Sir Graeme Catto, the former Chair of the General Medical Council, explaining to his MP why he supports the Assisted Dying Bill.
As a physician, I believe that terminally ill, mentally competent adults should be able to determine the time and place of their death if that is their settled wish. Had such a compassionate law been passed my mother, a bright, vibrant individual, would not have suffered the pain and indignity caused by the untreatable brain tumour. For her family and friends, her legacy was not of a life well-lived but of a lonely death in an uncaring institution.
Despite improved access to good quality end-of-life care, some individuals continue to suffer against their wishes. At present the law effectively forgives compassionate amateur assistance to die whilst prohibiting help from healthcare professionals. Our current reliance on retrospective investigation not only lacks compassion but fails adequately to protect vulnerable people. A change in the law would allow those who had formed a clear and settled view after considering all the available options, to die at a time and place of their choosing.
At present, dying people have to travel abroad or face the dangers of taking matters into their own hands, often alone. The State of Oregon enacted assisted dying legislation 18 years ago without experiencing any of the dire predictions made by those immutably opposed to change – there is no reason to believe that Britain would be any different.
This Bill allows terminally ill adults to request life-ending medication which the patient would self-administer at a time of their choosing. The Bill does not legalise voluntary euthanasia. Your support for this Bill will not result in more people dying but in fewer suffering unnecessarily.