Make voices heard af­ter this de­ci­sion

Bath Chronicle - - OPINION -

I re­gret to in­form the 80 per cent of sup­port­ers in Bath for a safe­guarded as­sisted dy­ing law in the UK that, on Novem­ber 27, the Supreme Court re­fused Noel Con­way, the ter­mi­nally ill man with Mo­tor Neu­rone Dis­ease, per­mis­sion to bring his case to a full hear­ing. This sub­stan­ti­ates the ev­i­dence that our ter­mi­nally ill are not be­ing lis­tened to when they want the choice of a dig­ni­fied med­i­cally as­sisted death by sui­cide when they are suf­fer­ing un­bear­ably. It goes without say­ing that Noel Con­way and his fam­ily are dev­as­tated by this de­ci­sion. No doc­tor, in­clud­ing the pal­lia­tive care ex­pert, Baroness Il­lora Fin­lay, who gave ev­i­dence to the three judges, went to see Noel in his home, when he was too ill to at­tend the hear­ings. When there is un­bear­able phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal suf­fer­ing, ex­pe­ri­enced by a ter­mi­nally ill men­tally com­pe­tent adult in their last six months of life, in spite of pal­lia­tive treat­ment and care, then a re­quest for an as­sisted death by the tak­ing of a pre­scribed life-end­ing med­i­ca­tion should be re­spected. We now know why it should not. The fact is that Chris­tian re­li­gion says suf­fer­ing is holy. It is an anath­ema to re­spect­ing a pa­tient’s au­ton­omy and a rea­son why this coun­try is no longer Chris­tian although our lead­ers like to still think it is. Also be­cause our pal­lia­tive care is deemed ex­em­plary – un­for­tu­nately can­cer and other ter­mi­nal ill­nesses are too nasty for that. What the Supreme Court has done to Noel and his fam­ily is ap­palling. Noel will have to en­dure se­da­tion he does not want when his breath­ing ven­ti­la­tion is re­moved. It is even more im­por­tant for us to in­form our MP, Wera Hob­house, of this in­jus­tice and for her to help us change the law to pro­tect our ter­mi­nally ill. On De­cem­ber 11 in the House of Commons Wera is plan­ning to at­tend a talk by the pres­i­dent-elect of the Cana­dian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion about how the safe, com­pas­sion­ate as­sisted dy­ing law in Canada works in prac­tice. Shame on our Supreme Court – this le­gal in­jus­tice should never be over­looked. Pauline Car­roll Re­tired dis­trict nurse and lead cam­paigner for Bath Dig­nity in Dy­ing group. Bath

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