21/12/2012 06:44 GMT | Updated 20/02/2013 05:12 GMT

Assisted Dying Campaign Is for Life, for Too Many

It struck me at a Dignity in Dying event earlier this month, as I looked around me and saw an international film star, a best-selling author and an award winning actress - that although I assure our patrons that we don't expect a lot of them - we do in fact expect an enormous amount. We also expect a lot from our members and supporters and colleagues and friends.

Many campaigns are short-lived, and we can all recall a famous name or two who has been linked to a campaign one week, and are all over the national press the following week in the victory photos. With the assisted dying campaign there is no quick fix. We can't promise our patrons, supporters, colleagues or friends a change in the law and a place in the 'victory' photo next week, next month, or even next year - yet they're still here.

That said, there is an end in sight. The campaign to legalise assisted dying, unlike some campaigns such as those working to alleviate poverty or improve access to finite resources, has an achievable end point. 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.

Dignity in Dying has made huge strides towards greater choice at the end of life. Milestones such as the 2010 director of public prosecutions' guidelines effectively decriminalising compassionate amateur assistance to die, and the subsequent debate in 2012 where MPs unanimously backed the guidelines. However our ultimate aim is for dying adults to be able to choose an assisted death and this goal may not be realised in time for some of those who are campaigning with us - it certainly didn't come soon enough for people like Dr Ann McPherson or Paul Blomfield MP's father, who both suffered greatly because that choice was not available to them.

And so the campaign for everyone to be able to have what they consider to be a good death gains momentum. It means a great deal that we have so many incredible patrons, supporters, colleagues and advocates. I don't know who will be in the victory photo, or how many more will have to suffer because of our outdated and uncompassionate laws, but I do know that whoever it is will be in good company, and we are very fortunate to have such loyal and dedicated support.