A columnist whose elderly mother has advanced Alzheimer’s says she is “shocked and horrified” that TV chef Mary Berry wants assisted suicide if she becomes a “burden”.
Writing in the Daily Mail, Amanda Platell said she wished Berry could meet her mother “who is just four years short of 90, the age the Great British Bake Off star thinks ought to be the cut-off point for life’s ‘good innings'”.
Platell said her mother often says she has ‘lost her marbles’, but pointed out that doesn’t mean she is “an unbearable burden to us”.
She admitted that caring for her mother is hard, but said “crucially, the joy of having her still with us at 86, even with Alzheimer’s, far outweighs the hardships”.
Her “chilling fear” is that if assisted suicide is made legal, “elderly people may feel pressure from their families to consider ending their life”.
Her comments echo those of the Prime Minister, who has said his “worry” is that people would be “unfairly pressurised” if there was a change in the law.
And Peter Saunders, head of pro-life group Care Not Killing, has warned that at a time of economic recession these fears would be felt more acutely.
A Bill to legalise assisted suicide for patients thought to have six months or less to live had its second reading in the House of Lords earlier this year.
Platell warned that people “still being of sound body and mind” might feel “obliged to consider making it easier for their family by making plans to take their own life”.
“It seems utterly pernicious and immoral for anyone to feel they ought to decide in advance whether there may be a time when they no longer have a quality of life that is deemed valuable or meaningful”, she commented.
She said that if Lord Falconer’s Bill became law Britain would become a country “where it is ‘normal’ for families to be able to ask doctors to kill relatives who are convinced they have become a burden”.
“In a civilised society no one should feel they have become a ‘burden’ and feel the best solution is to ask their family to help them end their life”, she added.
Care Not Killing also criticised Berry’s assisted suicide stance.
CNK spokesman Alistair Thompson said: “This is deeply depressing for such a well-loved celebrity like Mary Berry to speak out in favour of legalising euthanasia.
“It is clear that her reasons for backing euthanasia relate to her fear of becoming a burden. It is this reason that means we should never change the law”, he added.