British paralympic star Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson has criticised Professor Stephen Hawking’s support for assisted suicide, saying weakening the law would reinforce prejudices against disabled people.
Dame Tanni also cautioned against an assisted suicide Bill in the House of Lords which she said could lead to terminally ill people facing pressure to end their lives.
Writing in The Times, the 16-times paralympic medal winner said Prof Hawking’s comparison to animals being put down was misguided.
She said: “This is a well-worn argument of the euthanasia lobby – that we put down suffering animals out of kindness, so why don’t we do the same for humans?
“But what those who use this argument seem to overlook is that people don’t always take their pets to be put down out of compassion: they sometimes do so because they are a nuisance or because they are proving expensive to treat or to feed.
“Is that the sort of society we want to see?”
Dame Tanni, who was made a Peer in the House of Lords in 2010, also warned against Lord Falconer’s assisted suicide Bill which is awaiting debate.
She commented that the report, on which the Bill is based, “recommends that physician-assisted suicide should not be offered to people with disabilities who are not terminally ill ‘at this point in time’.
“It is those italicised words that send a chill down the spine of many people with physical disabilities”, she commented.
Lord Falconer, responding to Dame Tanni’s comments, said: “It is my own firm belief that a change in the law to allow assistance to die for non-terminally ill disabled people would not be appropriate now, or ever.”
He claimed there were safeguards in place in the Bill.
However in July this year an end-of-life think tank labelled Lord Falconer’s Bill “wholly inadequate” and “not fit for purpose”.