A widow and mother is refusing to become an advocate for assisted suicide because of the traumatic “after-effects on the family and friends left behind”.
“I won’t join any campaign, or celebrate his ‘choice’”, says Deborah Binner.
Her husband Simon opted for assisted suicide after being diagnosed with a form of motor neurone disease (MND).
Deborah has written ‘Yet Here I Am’, a book sharing truths of the heartache left by assisted suicide.
Reflecting on the aftermath, Deborah said: “Watching him plan his own death, while I still wanted more time, was overwhelmingly traumatic”.
She said: “Campaigners for assisted dying underestimate how terrible it is for those of us left behind”.
“I didn’t care what state he was or might be in, he was my husband – as valuable in a wheelchair as anyone out of it”, she added.
After being diagnosed with MND, Simon quickly began planning for an assisted suicide.
Deborah admits she was hoping he would forget about the idea and focus on living their final months together.
Instead, aged 57, ten months after diagnosis, Simon’s life was ended at the Eternal Spirit clinic in Basle, Switzerland, in October 2015.
Through her written experiences, Deborah wishes to “show a truthful picture” of assisted suicide.
She explains that the arguments posed by assisted suicide campaigners are “never that simple”.
“I was told many times, sometimes by the man himself: ‘This is Simon’s life; Simon’s choice’. But is that true?” she asks.
“Should we not be kinder, more patient, more respectful of human life?”
In 2013, Deborah also lost her teenage daughter, Chloe, to a rare form of cancer.
Chloe received ‘deeply compassionate’ palliative care, which left the family with treasured moments, joy and closure.
She contrasts this with Simon’s death.
Having experienced both, she questioned whether it would be “better, if a person has the best possible care, to let nature take its course”.
The law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland states that any person who intentionally encourages or assists the suicide or attempted suicide of another person can be sent to prison for a maximum of 14 years.
A Bill to legalise the practice was soundly defeated in the House of Commons in 2015 by 330 votes to 118.
In Scotland, a Bill to legalise assisted suicide was defeated by MSPs 82 votes to 36.