By Alex SchadenbergExecutive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Liz Carr is an actress and disability campaigner in the UK. Carr is a spokesperson for Not Dead Yet UK
ITV news published an article on August 14 by Liz Carr. She explains that she is not religious and she is not "anti-choice," but she works with Not Dead Yet to oppose the legalization of assisted suicide. She explains:
We believe that if the Assisted Dying Bill passes, that some people's lives will be ended without their consent, through mistakes and abuse.
No safeguards have ever been enacted or proposed that can prevent this outcome - which can never be undone. The only guaranteed safeguard is to not legalise assisted suicide.
And we're not alone in thinking this.
She explains that no organisations of disabled people support assisted suicide and most doctors oppose it. This is important to her.
As someone who has spent a lot of her life needing extensive health care, I am relieved to hear this. I wouldn't be alive without the NHS but I recognise that it is currently understaffed and under resourced. Against a backdrop of longer shifts, difficulty in obtaining appointments and the rationing of certain treatments, should we really be pushing further pressures onto our reluctant doctors?
Carr continues by explaining that the assisted suicide bill that will be debated in the British parliament is based on the Oregon assisted suicide law. She says:
We're told there's been no problems with this law but that is to ignore the experiences of Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup. Both Oregonians with terminal cancer, their life extending drugs were denied to them based on cost. Instead, they were offered a range of choices, including cheaper drugs to enable them to end their life.
If you think this wouldn't happen in England, it already is. Changes to England's Cancer Drugs Fund mean that from April 2015, new cancer patients have been denied a number of expensive treatments that were previously available on the NHS. The fund normally supports palliative treatment, enabling people with metastatic cancers to access drugs that can add several months to their lives. From April however, only people who are already on the treatments in question will receive them whilst new patients will no longer be eligible.
Carr then challenges the concept that legalizing assisted suicide provides choice.
So when supporters of these bills say they're about individual choice, I have to disagree. They offer one particular choice - physician assisted suicide. People do have other choices at the end of their lives, like palliative and hospice care, yet these choices are currently being denied to people.
In a recent survey of attitudes to dying, two-thirds said they would prefer to die at home yet the UK still has some of the highest rates of hospital death among older people in Europe.
Carr supports the law against assisted suicide.
Supporters of assisted suicide will tell you that the current law is broken but the current law is exactly where it needs to be when the consequences of making a mistake would be murder.
Safety of the many has to overrule the desires of the few. What is broken, however, are the social and health care support systems which are currently failing us all, both during and at the end of our lives.
Denied the support to live - or die - with dignity, is it any surprise that people feel they have no choice but to end their lives? What terminally ill and disabled people need is an Assisted Living not an Assisted Dying Bill.
She concludes that legalising medically assisted suicide is not the solution.