Eastbourne’s Dignity in Dying branch has invited the town’s MP and three other parliamentary candidates to discuss assisted dying at its March meeting.
Eastbourne man Steve Parlanti set up the local branch of Dignity in Dying back in November and was delighted when 30 locals attended the inaugural meeting in support of assisted dying.
Mr Parlanti watched his mum Pam plead with doctors and hospice carers to help her end her life with a fatal injection. He is now calling for a change in the law.
The group, which has branches across the country, believes mentally competent adults who have been certified by two independent doctors and been given six months to live should have the choice to end their life. Beliefs are based on Lord Faulkner’s Assisted Dying Bill and Mr Parlanti says it is not to be confused with euthanasia or any pro-suicide groups.
He told the Herald, “We believe very mentally competent person should be allowed to choose how and when they depart.”
Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd will debate the issue on March 25 with Conservative candidate Caroline Ansell, Green candidate Andy Durling and Nigel Jones who is standing for UKIP in the forthcoming General Election. Mr Parlanti explained he had invited Labour candidate Jake Lambert but his attendance had not yet been confirmed.
Mr Parlanti says he now has 70 members on the database and he is hoping ‘lively debate’ among the politicians encourages more members .
He said, “Members of the public are welcome and encouraged to attend. We welcome those who disagree with assisted dying or those who are uncertain.
“There is no point in preaching to the converted – we want to engage people.”
Mr Parlanti says the meeting will allow Dignity in Dying supporters and members of the public to hear the views of the parliamentary candidates. He said that even if they disagree with the group’s beliefs, he hopes to get a promise from the candidates, if elected, to give the issue parliamentary time so the matter can be properly discussed.
Mr Parlanti says local people are also key in making Dignity in Dying’s campaign a success.
He said, “The more people that attend, the more the candidates will realise just how important a topic this is to the electorate.”
Mr Parlanti believes Eastbourne could be a beacon for the national campaign.
Following the first meeting in November he said, “We had a guy from Dignity in Dying’s head office come down for the first meeting and he said it was the biggest response he had seen.”
The meeting is on March 25 at 7pm to 9pm in the meeting room at St Andrew’s United Reformed Church in Wish Road. Turn up on the night or call Mr Parlanti on 550114 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.