The person who wrote this article has asked not to be named.

To my mind it's not enough just to reconsider the way we think of and deal with death. I think we also need to change the way we allow people to deal with their own death.

When I lost my wife to cancer aged 41, my views started to solidify. It was clear to me that despite her having the best possible palliative care, palliative care did not have all the answers.

I have always been uneasy with what I perceive as a degree of hypocrisy in our cultural and political attitudes to this "thorny" issue. There are those who advocate not just assisted suicide but out and out euthanasia.For me this is far more than just a subtle semantic difference. I cannot and do not support the latter.

There are those that say the desire of some to end their own life reflects inadequate palliative care but to me this is just a smoke screen. My wife had outstanding palliative care, but that couldn't stop the hair loss, the faecal incontinence and the intractable nausea and vomiting caused by her chemotherapy.It couldn't stop the almost complete loss of sensation in her fingers and toes also caused by chemotherapy.That meant she could no longer carry out fine motor skills or walk across a room without it feeling like she was walking on broken glass; it couldn't stop the bloatedness, facial swelling and debilitating muscle weakness caused by the steroids; it couldn't stop the personality changes caused by the brain radiotherapy; it couldn't stop the overwhelming loss of dignity which distressed her so much; and it couldn't stop our children witnessing all of this. All these things caused her great distress at the end of her life.

I want you to remember, just for a few seconds, what the worst nausea and vomiting you have ever had felt like. Then try to imagine feeling like that day in, day out for 18 months.

Now I come to what I see as the hypocrisy of the whole debate. At present, of course, we actually DO allow people the right to die. But this is a passive choice in the form of refusing to have treatment. That right to refuse, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that refusal will result in death, is protected in law and also regarded as unchallengeable by politicians and society as a whole (taking into account all the safeguards around mental health issues). We demand far fewer hurdles or safeguards for that decision than are being proposed for this Bill.

In addition we routinely allow the withdrawal of treatment, knowing that this withdrawal will lead to death. Some suggest that to withdraw treatment is not causing someone's death, while helping someone take lethal drugs is causing someone's death. But I see no distinction morally or practically. They both have the same outcome, so where is the difference? I don't see why turning off a life support machine is any less "causing" someone's death than giving them a lethal potion. In both cases you do something which results in the person dying. If the outcome is the same then surely the "action" is irrelevant?

Thus in this country we already allow clinicians and families to make decisions to withdraw treatment or switch off life support without the individual's consent - we already allow a form of legalised euthanasia but still seek to deny individuals a right to choose.

So if you can have autonomy and choose to end your life by refusing treatment why can't you choose to end your life in an active way? If someone has reached the end of the road of toleration when suffering a terminal disease, why are we so averse to giving them the means to end their own life peacefully, painlessly and in a planned time and place of their choosing with their family, friends and loved ones around them? Why at their greatest time of need do we deny them their most fundamental human right - autonomy?

I have to emphasise again that I am in favour of some kind of change in the law on assisted dying as I do not find the current situation acceptable or desirable - for me the status quo is not an option. Although the numbers may be small, the current legislation, in my view, causes some people unnecessary distress and suffering and I find that inhumane.

We have heard much talk of "slippery slopes" but this just doesn't hold up for me when we are talking about this Bill. There is nothing in this Bill that would allow a minor or a non-consenting disabled person or someone with learning difficulties or mental health issues to receive life-ending assistance.

We have also heard allegations about similar laws in other parts of the world like Oregon or Holland. But the Bill being proposed here is a different law, in a different legal system and a different social and cultural milieu, so we cannot infer too much from other countries, other legal systems or other cultures.

Whilst I respect their views, I simply do not understand why something which, by definition, will be voluntary and which therefore needs not affect them at all engenders such bitterness from those who oppose it.

In reality I believe that assisted suicide would be a rare event. Indeed, some of the evidence suggests that when such an option is legally available people are less likely to avail themselves of it. In other words, because they have the safety net of that option they tend to persevere longer with other options.

About 2 or 3 years ago I was at a talk where the speaker, who was opposed to any change in the law, basically said there was no place for autonomy in this discussion. I disagree with that profoundly. However, I do not think autonomy is the be all and end all. Sometimes we over-rule individual autonomy for the sake of a greater public health good - for example, we have compulsory seat belts or bans on smoking in public places.

So, not all autonomy is the same. But when it comes to end of life decisions, where a person of sound mind has made a decision to end their life and that decision is supported by the other people directly affected by the decision - family and friends - then, in those circumstances, I do believe autonomy trumps all.

I am clear in my own mind that if I have a terminal condition and I am suffering intolerably, either physically or emotionally, I should be free to end my life at a time and place of my choosing with the people I love around me should they wish to be there. And I think that a civilised society should be prepared to supply me with the means and mechanisms to do so in a humane way.

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