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Diana Melly webchat for Dignity In Dying, Monday 26 March, 11am-noon

(121 Posts)
GeraldineGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 19-Mar-12 10:34:25

Ahead of an important parliamentary debate on assisted suicide the following day, we're delighted to welcome Diana Melly, an ambassador for Dignity In Dying, for a live webchat. Diana is a former nightclub hostess, an author and the widow of jazz singer George Melly. Get involved in our conversation about assisted dying.

Carol Mon 19-Mar-12 10:52:11

That will be such an interesting debate. Can't say I'm looking forward to it, but you know what I mean!

greenmossgiel Tue 20-Mar-12 11:18:20

I agree, Carol. I think it's something that just about everyone may have thoughts on.

gma Wed 21-Mar-12 09:37:36

Will be interested in debate with Diana Melly. I do have strong feelings regarding this contentious subject. My father died from the effects of Altzheimers and if I could have helped him on his inevitable way I most certainly would have done.
Hub and I saw George Melly and John Chilton and later Digby Fairweather many times here in East Anglia. It was always an evening of pure entertainment, great jazz, lots of laughs and always very naughty!!!! Thank you'goodtime George' !!! wine

Greatnan Wed 21-Mar-12 10:46:31

My great fear is not of becoming physically frail but of losing my personality and power of thought. I would like to be able to make a living will asking to be euthanised in those circumstances but at the moment even Exit in Switzerland will not take clients who are not mentally capable of giving consent.
My mother had dementia for five years and her life had no quality at all - she couldn't read, watch TV, hold a conversation, and eventually she did not recognise us. She was in a constant state of terror, not knowing where she was and where she was going. She was not in pain, but when she developed pneumonia at 89 the NHS hospital worked very hard to cure her - why? In the end, she stopped taking food and then liquids and 'turned her face to the wall'. My brother was asked if she should be fed by a tube and he very sensibly said 'No'.
I wish I had had the courage to find some way to end her misery but I was too afraid of going to prison.
I know that doctors have, historically, often used their discretion in prescribing lethal doses of morphine to end-stage cancer victims, but unfortunately many of them lost their nerve after Shipman.
This is another subject where the religious lobby must not be allowed to dictate the law according to their own beliefs.

LydiaReid Wed 21-Mar-12 19:02:52

I wonder if the people who are for assisted dying in any way are familiar with the process of this system over the years in Holland

Carenotkilling can give a lot of information on their website

In Holland euthanasia is "offered" to all with life limiting conditions and also to all with painful or mental health issues or conditions

Doctors now feel it is "sensible" to offer this to all people over retirement age who believe they have been retired long enough
I have no doubt their families will have a say in this

People who have depression can apply for euthanasia

A young mother who had lost two children applied and was successful

She is dead

They do not have an NHS as such in Holland they have a system where everyone has to pay medical insurance

The Doctors who make the decision on whether a person is of the right emotional temperament and also able to make an informed decision are hired by the medical insurance companies

The doctors now want the right to choose whether a baby should be allowed to live if they discover an illness or health issue and certainly a condition like downs etc
All disabled children are to be aborted
Remember they want to take the decision away from parents
They want the right to choose whether a sick person lives no matter age or infirmity
While believe me I understand the depth of despair when a condition is painful or life limiting or difficult to deal with
I understand that watching a loved one with an awful condition is heart breaking but think

Over 40 years ago we passed a bill that allowed abortion only for the few
Now we kill a classroom full of children every DAY in Scotland alone
Abortion was used at the last count up to 8-12 times by some woman
A slippery slope is saying we have the right to kill
it will always be abused

Greatnan Thu 22-Mar-12 06:50:52

I expected some scare-mongering and irrational linking to abortion. Nobody is proposing that doctors should be given the legal right to decide to kill a patient. We are asking for people to be able to ask for help to die.
I am very upfront and honest about my stance - I am an atheist and secularist. I hope that anyone with a religious agenda will be equally honest.
I read the Carenot killing site very carefully and noticed the careful blurring between what is actually law in the Netherlands and what are merely proposals.

bagitha Thu 22-Mar-12 08:42:26

Someone always shoves in the slippery slope argument. Lydia, please could you provide robust references to all your claims. I very much doubt if doctors want the decision process to be entirely in their hands. Evidence, please.

bagitha Thu 22-Mar-12 09:28:14

If I 'lost' my children, I think I would want to die too. Why shouldn't someone in such an intolerable situation choose to end their own life? Why should someone in such an intolerable situation be expected to live on? Death would be preferable to such a hell.

Not everyone would feel like this but I think it's important to recognise that death is a perfectly valid and acceptable desire. We have been indoctrinated into thinking that death must be prevented at all costs whereas sometimes death is a good (even a psychologically 'healthy') choice.

glammanana Thu 22-Mar-12 09:29:59

I find the post from Lydia very traumatic reading,I find it difficult to understand how a young mother of two children (sadly lost) can be allowed to take her own life.

Greatnan Thu 22-Mar-12 09:33:35

I thought at the time of the Aberfan disaster that if both my children had died in such a terrible way I would not want to live. When my daughter seemed likely to die, I thought I would not want to live but would have to carry on for the sake of her children. Suicide is a luxury which you lose when people depend on you.
The young mother was entitled to decide that life without her children was not worth living. It is not for any of us to pass judgement on her.

Jacey Thu 22-Mar-12 09:44:49

Sorry glammanana ...don't deeply unhappy people in this country commit suicide over such things??

That isn't a case of 'being allowed' is someone's choice. A choice that many whose quality of life/who are just existing /are being medically kept alive not have.

I agree bagitha ...there does seem to be some level of indoctrination that death must be prevented at all costs.

We seem to keep people alive because we can ...with little evaluation of whether we ought to consider their wishes.

glammanana Thu 22-Mar-12 09:55:55

jacey yes I agree with you,but I read the post as the authorities in Holland are in agreement with what the poor mother intended to do,I do know of people who have lost the will to live after the loss of their children and if I was in the same situation I do not know how I would cope with it.I just found the post very distressing,hope you understand where I am coming from.

bagitha Thu 22-Mar-12 11:39:30

I think you've got to the nub of the issue, glam. As I read it, if 'the authorities' had anything to do with the young woman who chose to die, it was simply to say "yes, you can make that choice if you wish". They, apparently, accepted her choice and 'the law' allowed her to do what she wanted to do. It seems distressing on one level that a young woman should want to die, but if she had lost her children (it doesn't say how), she would have had to live with awful distress all her life. She chose not to. I can understand where you're coming from, but I understand where she was coming from too.

It's not really clear what really happened, or why, which is why I have asked the poster to elaborate.

Jacey Thu 22-Mar-12 12:38:02

Ok ...what is the legal position on suicides in this country?

I thought it was no longer illegal? But does it still have implications for burial?

Greatnan Thu 22-Mar-12 13:43:59

Well, it would be hard to prosecute after a successful suicide but attempted suicide is no longer a crime. The law on assisting someone to die when asked to do so is a complete fudge. It is still nominally illegal but it was decided that the CPS would not press charges unless there was some evidence of coercion.
I don't know what churches do now, as I have nothing whatsoever to do with them, but I assume they have decided to be humane and allow burial in church grounds after a suicide.
It has no implications for a non-religious burial.

Jacey Thu 22-Mar-12 13:49:26

Thank you Greatnan ...that was what i thought, but wasn't too sure. Always thought it was very cruel to prosecute a failed suicide ...but still not sure about the views of 'churches' re-funerals hmm perhaps the families go down the cremation route? confused

glammanana Thu 22-Mar-12 17:23:16

Thanks for that bagitha 3 posts ^

Greatnan Thu 22-Mar-12 18:36:35

I see this is lydiaried's only post and she has no profile. Hm.....

Elegran Thu 22-Mar-12 18:42:57

And points readers to a partisan website

Greatnan Thu 22-Mar-12 18:48:41

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!

jaskie Fri 23-Mar-12 13:31:29

My mother, father myself and my husband have all signed and had witnessed
a LIVING WILL in which we declare that if we are very ill, dying, paralized etc,
then we only wish to have pain killers and water.
My father was dying very slowly of LUNG Cancer when he developed a pulmonary embulism.He refused further treatment and we showed the LW paperwork to the hospital doctors. Treatment was not started..... we had the law completely on our side!! Dad passed away in his sleep after 4 very peaceful
days!!He was 87+ years old and had lived a long and contented life. Maybe with treatment he may have lived a few more days...... mostly with painful treatment going on!!NO,NO ..... away with the Christians and the bishops..... after a long life, a peaceful death,no pain, no suffering.... Dad was mentally frail and never even understood that he had cancer!!
Many elderly people are too frail to understand their condition and thoughts and legal paperwork need to be put in place years before old age etc kicks in.
It is crazy to live on in zombie land...... I would never want to be a burden to my childen........ We need a similar arrangement as they have in Switzerland...... It is pointless to live in a mentally dead state...... After a long and happy life many elderly people in pain or as bright as a vegetable shoud be able to end their lives peacefully at a time of their choosing!!

Lilygran Fri 23-Mar-12 14:09:19

Agree entirely. When abortion was made legal, we were assured it would only be made use of in a small number of really difficult cases and never for convenience or as a means of birth control. It doesn't matter how restricted the practice of euthanasia might be, the big step is to accept that it's OK for the rest of us to kill people as part of a medical continuum.

Greatnan Fri 23-Mar-12 15:15:23

Agree with what , Lilygran? This thread is not about abortion.

onneker Fri 23-Mar-12 17:24:10

People who oppose voluntary euthanasia (meaning the person chooses) nearly always leap to arguments about euthanasia (no choice) and then to abortion and talk of slippery slopes. I always say no one forces another person to have an abortion and no one forces them to choose death but I would like the right for both to be freely available if I should want to make that choice. I cannot believe it is beyond the ability of our lawmakers to allow that choice and include all the safeguards needed so the opposition could not conjure up rows of little old ladies being killed for their money.

I always knew that if my only daughter died I'd want to die too. That option is not available now because she has children and I'd have to stay alive for their sakes but I find it difficult to know how anyone could condemn a woman who lost two children for deciding to die.