Widdecombe: ‘Rantzen’s campaign for assisted suicide must not prevail’

Dame Esther Rantzen’s campaign for assisted suicide “must not be allowed to win”, Ann Widdecombe has warned.

While sharing her deep sympathy for Rantzen in her battle with terminal cancer, the former Conservative MP said the situation called “for thinking as well as feeling”.

Former TV presenter Rantzen, who is calling for a change in the law to remove end-of-life protections, has said she will travel to Switzerland to end her life at the Dignitas clinic if her treatment is unsuccessful.

‘Runaway bus’

Miss Widdecombe said the Commons had “good reason” to reject the issue in 2015, as “it is impossible to introduce adequate safeguards to protect the mentally ill, disabled and the frail elderly.

“Parliamentarians have a duty to all, not just the loudest shouters”.

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In other countries, she explained, assisted suicide “has become a runaway bus with, in some cases, even children able to give consent but the laws did not start that way.

“In Canada, a patient asked for a stairlift and was offered a lethal injection.”

Vulnerable threatened

She continued: “You cannot get to my age without having seen loved ones suffer (my brother died of cancer) or having seen dear friends die in pain.

“And, yes, I too have thought ‘We wouldn’t do this to an animal.’

“But that emotional indignation has also to be extended to those whom any euthanasia law would threaten.”

A peaceful death

As part of the backlash to Rantzen’s high profile campaign, former Cabinet Minister Nadine Dorries has said that doctors should never be asked to kill their patients.

Reflecting on the peaceful death of her terminally ill husband at home, supported by palliative care and surrounded by family”, Dorries stated: “The truth is that there is no need for anyone to have a bad death or to die in pain today.”

She argued: “Medication is sophisticated and palliative care services are down to the Government, the NHS and the local care commissioning boards which manage palliative care funding.”

“By contrast”, she added, “the end of life medication administered at Dignitas, a drug taken in 60ml of water and swallowed, does not, to my mind, result in a peaceful end.”

Also see:


Paralympic legend fears for vulnerable if end-of-life protections are removed

‘Unlike Dame Esther, I’m thankful assisted suicide is not legal in the UK’

Majority of UK doctors would not facilitate assisted suicide

Challenging assisted suicide: ‘We must care for those who are suffering, not end their lives’

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