Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, said:
“I am saddened to hear of the death of Lord Brian Rix this morning, whose personal experience of terminal illness prompted him to declare his support for assisted dying earlier this month. My sincere condolences go out to his family and friends.
“Lord Rix, a well-loved comic actor and public figure, fought passionately and commendably for disability rights throughout his life. Unfortunately he felt, until recently, that the rights of disabled people would be compromised should an assisted dying law – applying solely to terminally ill, mentally competent adults under strict safeguards – be passed in the UK, and voted against such a Bill in 2006.
“In a letter to the Speaker of the House of Lords Baroness D’Souza earlier this month, however, Lord Rix declared a change of position. Lord Rix explained that “As a dying man… I am only too conscious that the laws of this country make it impossible for people like me to be helped on their way, even though the family is supportive of this position and everything that needs to be done has been dealt with.” He went on to urge Baroness D’Souza to raise the issue in the House of Lords, “so that people like [him] do not continue to suffer untold misery for want of a kind alternative.
“Lord Rix’s announcement just a few weeks before his death clearly shows, as we at Dignity in Dying have long asserted, that the rights and safety of disabled people would not be put at risk by an assisted dying law. I sincerely hope that politicians take heed of Lord Rix’s words – that this issue be brought back onto the political agenda, and that the rights of terminally ill people to have choice and control over their death do not compromise the rights of disabled people to safety and protection during their life.”
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Notes to Editor
Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high quality end-of-life care.