Assisted dying was an idea I was aware of as I was growing up and one which seemed to make logical sense - if you are dying you should have control over the suffering that sometimes comes with that process. Then, at university, I worked as a healthcare assistant, mainly in palliative care. It was then I was forced to face the reality of our current cruel laws.
We have a problem: people are suffering unbearably and needlessly at the end of life because they don't have the choice of an assisted death. Legalising the choice of assisted dying within strict legal safeguards would provide an answer to a real and present problem - and evidence from Oregon and Washington proves that this can be achieved safely.
Our beloved 14 year old cocker spaniel Sammy who has lived for the past six months with senile dementia, blindness, a lack of bowel control and use of his legs, was put to sleep yesterday. With our dog we were allowed to choose when to end his life so that he could die with dignity and achieve a 'good death'. We were not allowed that option with my father.
As I understand the guidelines from the Director of Public Prosecutions, a spouse or even a family friend can assist somebody to die if they act out of compassion and love as far as these can be ascertained. Journalists seem to think this is a great concession which we should be happy with. I am not. All that is being tentatively offered means that amateurs will try to help other amateurs to die with, heaven help us, such mechanisms and drugs that they can get hold of. Frankly this is no better than suicide itself.