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Comment on Dignitas founder Ludwig Minelli at the Liberal Democrat conference (20 September 2006)

20 September 2006

Comment on visit to Britain by the founder of Dignitas, Ludwig Minelli, at a fringe meeting at today’s Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton

Dignity in Dying, advocate of patient choice at the end of life, has today criticised Dignitas for its suggestion that people with chronic mental health problems should be allowed assistance to die.

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, said,

“Any law in the UK must be based around choice for competent adults who are terminally ill. This is a fundamental safeguard to ensure that it is the patient who chooses, fully informed and aware of the decision they take. This law has worked well in Oregon in the USA and it would work well here. We are totally opposed to allowing people with chronic depression have help to die and the Bill brought forward by Lord Joffe would prevent that better than our law does now.”

Ms Annetts added,

“British people who are not terminally ill and who have questions about their competence have already had assistance to die from Dignitas. This shows why we need a regulated system of assisted dying in Britain – to ensure there is proper protection for people like this, alongside choice for terminally ill people.”

In January new research from Brunel University showed that around 3,000 UK patients every year receive help to die unlawfully from doctors. Of these, two thirds do not explicitly ask for help to die.


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