Today’s Topics: Oct. 2, 2020
1. Sick Doctor Changes His Mind (Right To Die news list – FEN)
2. Ireland Considers Aid in Dying (Right To Die news list – FEN)
Derek Humphry sent this article from Friday’s TIMES of London:
Doctor with terminal cancer changes his mind on assisted dying
By Greg Hurst, Times Social Affairs Editor
A health expert who has terminal lung cancer has called for a change in the law to allow assisted dying.
Paul Cosford, 57, emeritus medical director at Public Health England, said that he had never wanted to be a supporter of assisted dying but that since receiving his diagnosis he wanted the ability to take control of his final days should he wish to do so.
Professor Cosford, who has never smoked, called it ‘inhumane’ that the ban on assisted dying meant that rational, law-abiding people travelled to Switzerland to end their lives and their loved ones risked prosecution.
He had incurable lung cancer diagnosed three years ago. He left his role as director for health protection and medical director at Public Health England in May last year but still offers strategic advice on air quality, preventative health measures and global public health. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 2016.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, he said that after a period of stability his cancer was growing again and he may not live beyond a year or two. He said that if it all became too much he found it appealing to imagine having the option to administer diamorphine to end his life, but the law meant that this was not possible.
“My biggest fear around dying is the lack of control. The lack of ability, if all becomes too much, to advance the end a little, to take some control in my final days,” he said. He had previously thought the law was too blunt an instrument to deal well with the complexities of such difficult moral and ethical matters; however, a change in the law would, he said, mean that he and others could have more open conversations about how their lives would end, even if he would probably not take up some of the options.
“These are genuine concerns,” he wrote. “Yet I am sure that a careful look at other countries’ experiences can help us get this right so we can learn from where it works well, identify the risks andagree how to mitigate them.”
Professor Cosford said that his present approach was to “keep calm and carry on” and spend time with those to whom he is close.
“I am convinced that it is time to look at this again,” he added. “A review that takes account of changing views across wider society seems timely. Of course, professional bodies will have a view, but this is a wider societal issue around the fact that we die and the need to think properly about how we die.
“We need to set aside entrenched positions on each side of the debate and look openly at the problems faced by people at the end of their lives. We need to understand why rational, law-abiding people sometimes feel compelled to travel to Switzerland for such care, often not telling their families why they are going. And we need to understand why their loved ones are sometimes prosecuted afterwards for helping them. Surely this tells us that our current arrangements are inhumane.”
Oct. 2 Press Release from Dignitas
Ireland: The vote on assisted dying is a vote on a human right
“It is time to respect an individual’s rights and wishes. Are the Irish and their wishes and hopes at the end of life really so very different to Swiss people or Canadians and others who do have the choice of an assisted death? Surely a modern democratic society like Ireland should stop denying people the choice of an assisted death?
The time is right for Ireland to offer its citizens compassion and empathy at the end of life rather than compelling them to end their life by risky and terrible do-it-yourself suicide or to travel to Switzerland. What has worked well in Switzerland for 35 years, the legal, free and personal choice of self-determination over the end of one’s suffering and one’s life, can work in Ireland too. It is time to respect the individual’s personal end-of-life choice and the human right to decide on the time and manner of one’s own end in life.”
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