LETTER: Choice of the individual

I write to correct inaccuracies in Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell’s views on assisted dying [Herald, August 28] and the upcoming debate in the House of Commons.

A huge majority of the British public support a change in the law, as high as 82 per cent in the most recent poll. By not supporting assisted dying, Caroline is failing to represent the huge majority of her electorate.

Those of us who have witnessed the reality of a loved one die in pain, discomfort and with a loss of dignity know what the current situation is really like as opposed to those who bury their heads in the sand assuming that current legislation suffices.

The issue boils down to personal choice, something that the law currently does not allow. It is the ultimate in the state interfering in people’s lives. Caroline trots out the usual ‘concern’ about vulnerable people, even though she knows full well that the proposed Bill has measures in place to protect those that need protecting. The Bill is for those who are terminally ill, mentally competent adults who have made a clear and settled intent.

Overseen by two doctors and a High Court judge, the process would ensure BEFORE one’s death that matters are above board, as opposed to now when it is only after someone has died that investigation takes place. Should someone feel that they are a burden, they would NOT be able to access assisted dying, and to suggest that they would is misleading.

Caroline mentions greater access to palliative care, but this can be as well as a choice of assisted dying, not just instead of as she alludes to. Caroline’s political credentials are apparent with the meaningless term ‘legislative creep’. Scaremongering in its sound, it suggests assisted dying will develop into a situation where we all have to be terminated at 30 years old! I think someone has been watching too many science fiction films.

You cannot state that any law passed will automatically lead to a downward spiral without due evidence. But we do have evidence concerning assisted dying. The upcoming Bill is based on the law in Oregon, USA, where after being in force for the last 19 years, there has been no extension of the law, no abuse, and no ‘rush’ of people availing themselves of the choice. Caroline is again well aware of the proposed Bill, but instead decides on writing about euthanasia, a totally separate issue altogether.

When I debated the issue with Caroline, she told me that her mailbag was split about 50/50 on the issue. I have trouble believing this, and indeed invited Caroline to do with me a straw poll in Eastbourne where I believe she would have found a truer figure mirroring the national polls. Caroline declined. Even if we do, for argument’s sake, take Caroline’s figure of 50/50 here is the thing. Those wanting a change in the law are not forcing their views on anyone else, they are simply wanting a further choice. Nobody is saying that everyone must have assisted dying. But those who are against a change are forcing their views on the rest of us. One wonders how much Caroline’s religious views are the real reason for her not supporting the Bill.

This matter really is life and death. Although due to be debated on September 11 in Parliament, it will not be going away after then whatever happens in the House.

S Parlanti

Maxfield Close

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