Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, said:
“It is incredibly sad news to hear that Lord Rix is now terminally ill and he and his family have our sympathies. His letter reminds us once again that it is dying people themselves we should listen to when it comes to the issue of assisted dying. Many dying people, their loved ones and their families, are faced with terrible decisions to make. We believe that the choice of an assisted death, at home in the UK, should be one of the options presented to dying people who do not wish to suffer in the last days and weeks of life. We encourage opponents to actually put themselves in the shoes of terminally ill people rather than talking about them.
“Lord Rix has been a long time dedicated campaigner for disability rights and understands the pressures and barriers disabled people face in society. It is perhaps due to these concerns that he voted against the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill in 2006. These fears have never been realised in the jurisdictions that have legalised assisted dying. Many national disabled organisations oppose assisted dying for the terminally ill without evidence to support their claims and despite 86% of disabled people supporting it.
“While the right to an assisted death in this country will not be available to Lord Rix, there are ways to ensure that dying people can have their wishes respected. We also encourage people who are facing terminal illness to look into advance care planning, including the use of advance decisions to ensure that people are not kept alive against their wishes, nor given unnecessary and invasive treatment.”
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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.