A British man suffering from dementia has committed suicide at a Dignitas clinic in Switzerland – in a case believed to be the first of its kind.
Dementia is a neurodegenerative disease but is not a terminal illness.
Pro-life group Care Not Killing (CNK) warned the case was “hugely alarming and shows the real agenda of those seeking a change in the law”.
The unnamed 83-year-old man was helped in the process by an ex-GP known as Dr Death.
The Briton is believed to be the first to die at Dignitas solely because of dementia.
The publicity surrounding the case follows a Peer’s bid to introduce an assisted suicide Bill which would allow doctors to give lethal drugs to patients who are believed to have less than six months to live.
But CNK warned that those wanting to change the law are seeking “assisted suicide or euthanasia almost on demand”.
The group commented: “We’ve been warning about an incremental approach, as once you change the law you get more and more cases like this, which is why we are so worried.
“We know that people who are vulnerable, disabled and terminally ill will be most under pressure.”
Peter Saunders, CNK’s campaign director, has also pointed out that the former GP involved, Michael Irwin, was struck off the medical register in 2005 after admitting to supplying sleeping pills to assist someone to die.
In the new case Mr Irwin had arranged for the unnamed man to see a psychiatrist to produce a report saying he was mentally competent to make such a decision.
Mr Saunders commented: “People with dementia and their families need the best possible care and support, not campaigns for the removal of their legal protection.
“Our current law provides the right balance. On the one hand the penalties it holds in reserve act as a powerful deterrent to exploitation and abuse.
“On the other hand it gives discretion to prosecutors and judges in dealing with hard cases. It does not need changing.”