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Dignity in Dying comments on Sir Terry Pratchett’s call for “assisted death” to be legalised.

In the Richard Dimbleby lecture tonight, Sir Terry Pratchett will call for “assisted death” to be legalised. He will propose tribunals, which could give people legal permission to end their lives. Commenting, the Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, Sarah Wootton, said:

“We commend Sir Terry Pratchett for sparking a public debate on this important issue, and for seeking a compassionate way forward. At present those who are suffering unbearably at the end of life and who want choice and control over the time and manner of their death have no other option but to take matters into their own hands. The Director of Public Prosecution’s interim guidelines are helpful in that they distinguish between compassionate behaviour which should not be prosecuted and malicious behaviour which should. But, an investigation and possible prosecution after the event is no substitute for up-front safeguards and is of little help to someone who has already died.

“The law needs to change to give terminally ill, mentally competent adults the choice of an assisted death, within up-front safeguards. Anti-choice campaigners argue that such a law is open to abuse, but common-sense dictates, as does the evidence from jurisdictions that have changed the law, that a transparent process offers people choice whilst protecting vulnerable people. A process that allows people to discuss their fears and concerns openly at the end of life with health professionals, with the possibility to meet any unmet social and health care needs, does more to prevent possible abuse than the status quo which forces people to take the law into their own hands.”

Notes to editor:

About Dignity in Dying:

– 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.

– Dignity in Dying has over 100,000 supporters and receives its funding entirely from donations from the public.

– Surveys consistently show that at least 80% of the UK population supports a change in the law on assisted dying.

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