Moira Symons

My mother’s death, a year ago, reinforced my long-held view that the law should change to allow terminally-ill people to have help to end their lives at a time chosen by themselves. My mother had coped with years of illness but her final two months were a nightmare for her. She was not afraid of dying but kept asking, “Why does it have to take so long?” She desperately wanted to be given a drug that would end her suffering, but the law denied her any such option. Why should that be so?

With systems in place to ensure that people requesting help to die are doing so of their own volition, all rational adults should be allowed to decide for themselves when death has become preferable to continued suffering.

Excellent palliative care is available and my mother received the best possible attention in a nursing home where the staff were wonderful, but that didn't alter the fact that life no longer gave her pleasure and she wanted it to end.

Opponents of the right to choose cite palliative care as an alternative to assisted suicide, as if the mere existence of that care means that there is no need for anyone to choose suicide. This simply is not true. Even if it were possible for all pain to be controlled by drugs (which does not seem to be the case), there are other things to fear.

Becoming helpless, lacking dignity and privacy and waking every morning to a life that no longer holds any joy add up to a nightmare which I certainly don’t want to face. If and when I get to that stage, I want to be able to get help to have a quick and dignified exit at a time and place of my own choosing. I sincerely hope that the law will change soon enough to allow me to do that.

There is also an issue concerning unfair discrimination. If my mother had chosen to die when still physically capable of killing herself, without any help, she could have done so. As a seriously-disabled person she did not have that option.

It is ridiculous that someone fit enough to end his/her own life has an opportunity to do so, while someone who would need assistance can't. I thought we were supposed to have stopped discriminating against people with disabilities, but this is an example of some people still having more rights than others.

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