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Esther Rantzen welcomes Scotland’s Right To Die Bill

Esther Rantzen

Dame Esther Rantzen has hailed assisted dying legislation being introduced at Holyrood in Scotland as “historic”.

The presenter previously said she is intending to travel to Switzerland after being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.

Earlier this week Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur announced he was presenting a Bill to the Scottish Government to give terminally ill people the choice to end their lives. 

McArthur is “absolutely convinced” the “long-overdue reform” will become law.

Rantzen said: “I want to congratulate the Scottish Parliament for prioritising this debate so that they can carefully consider this crucial issue and scrutinise this historic assisted dying Bill.

“The current law is cruel, complicated and causes terrible suffering to vulnerable people.

“I have received dozens of letters from people describing the agonising deaths of those they loved. This is literally a life and death issue, and I believe terminally ill patients like me need and deserve the right to choose this option if our lives become intolerable.”

Former nurse Patricia Donoghue, 69, from Glasgow, was diagnosed with PTSD after watching her husband die of cancer eight years ago, he was unable to eat or drink in his final weeks of his life and in constant pain.

She told the PA news agency: “He accepted death, but why did he have to suffer like that for three weeks?

“I know if assisted dying were an option, he would have wanted it.

“He would have said ‘I’ve tried. I’ve had enough, I’ve done enough. I want to go’.

“We think of Britain as being advanced, but we are not.

“Leaving people to suffer in the final stages of their life is far from advanced – it’s cruel.

“I can’t change what happened to Kevan, but I want it to change for others in the future.

“People are suffering and having a horrible time of it, all being made worse by this cruel law.

“You can’t sit on the fence with this issue, it needs to change.”

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, said the legislation is an “important milestone towards terminally ill people in Scotland having the choice at the end of their lives that is so urgently needed”.

She added: “It is a historic day for Scotland and for those who have campaigned tirelessly for a safer, more compassionate law, many having felt the devastating effects of the status quo first-hand.

“It also parks the issue of assisted dying firmly on Westminster’s doorstep.”

This is the third time MSPs have tried to change the law in assisted dying, the first attempt was made by independent MSP Margo MacDonald, who later passed away with Parkinsons disease and Green MSP Patrick Harvie.

McArthur believes the “political mood has changed” and is hopeful the law will now be changed for people who have lived in Scotland at least a year beforehand.

For the Bill to go ahead two doctors, one with no relationship with the patient, must confirm the person is terminally ill and has capacity to request assisted dying.

The patient will then have to wait two weeks before being given the medication to help them die, which they must be able to take themselves.

[ More than 400 million people around the world have a legal right to die. ]

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