Lords ruling insufficient – Debbie

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Published: Sunday 4th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Just days before her death, right-to-die campaigner Debbie Purdy said legal guidelines on assisted dying she fought for and won did not go far enough to prevent people “dying badly”.

Ms Purdy, 51, from Bradford, who won a House of Lords ruling which resulted in new government guidelines on assisted suicide in 2009, died on December 23 after deciding to end her life having battled primary progressive multiple sclerosis for nearly 20 years.

In an article published in the Independent on Sunday, written shortly before she died through refusing food, Ms Purdy said Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill was “not good enough as it is” although she hoped it would pass into law.

And she admitted her husband Omar Puente had wanted her to change her mind “up until the very last minute”.

She wrote: “I just hope others succeed where I have ultimately failed, and that Britain will see an appropriate assisted dying law soon, so that no one else has to work as hard as I have to have some choice and control over the way I die.”

Revealing her struggle to end her life she said: “Three times I became semi-concious and ran temperatures. Omar and the doctors thought I was going to die, but my body kept going against my will. This final hurdle added to my conviction that we need to change the law.

“I do not think deciding to end your life should be easy, but it should not cause so much pain and difficulty to you or those who love you, illness is painful and degrading enough, we don’t need finding a solution to be as unbearable and undignified as this.”

At present the guidelines introduced by Keir Starmer QC, the then director of public prosecutions, mean the motives of those assisting suicide would be at the centre of the decision over whether they should be prosecuted.

The Assisted Dying Bill has already been through several parliamentary hoops but supporters of a change claimed opponents were determined to “strangle” it by using up time, limited in light of the upcoming general election.

The bill would allow doctors to prescribe a lethal dose to terminally-ill patients judged to have six months or less to live, who request it.

But Ms Purdy accused politicians of “risking lives” by not acting.

“The guidelines were great as far as they went, but they were not embodied in law, rightly so; only the House of Commons can do that. But it seems our elected representatives would rather risk our lives than their jobs and have consistently refused to consider legislation that would help make many deaths more tolerable,” she wrote.

Published: Sunday 4th January 2015 by The News Editor

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