Guernsey Press

My experience helps me to understand the case for assisted dying – and I support it

In the letter The world is being turned upside down, [19 March], the correspondent, John De Carteret says:


‘In the few countries that it has already been introduced, those who fear it the most are the elderly. They fear going into hospital in case they don’t come out. And this fear has been fully justified. How, you might ask? Since the introduction of euthanasia in these countries, there has been an alarming increase of elderly patients who have gone in for a routine operation and not come out. Add to that, no satisfactory explanation and your mind begins to wonder.’

Can I ask – where does he get his information from? Is this a proven and verified source or merely some internet-based comments from an obscure source? There is also much posted on the internet to negate his comments entirely – it is up to the individual to believe what they wish.

I personally do not believe that we would suddenly be covertly ‘murdering’ droves of the elderly if assisted dying were permitted. (I am 67 years old.)

I would ask him: Have you ever personally been in a position were you are in acute, crippling pain 24 hours a day, hardly able to stand and walk? The act of simply getting to and using the toilet being excruciating with potential loss of bowel control?

Have you then been in hospital and been given morphine and painkillers which have had no effect whatsoever and then been told you have been given the maximum dose permitted and can have no more?

Have you been seen by the local surgeon to be told that he cannot really do anything to help? Have you been unable to sleep because the pain is constant and only manage short periods of ‘unconsciousness’ because you are absolutely exhausted, then wake up to that pain again?

I have.

My pain could not be controlled by conventional means. The only way to get away from it would have been to render me unconscious.

For me, it was a slipped disc which my private surgeon in the UK described as one of ‘jaw-dropping’ proportions. The only thing that kept me going was the fact that he said there was a chance he could help – which he actually did.

Now imagine that scenario where you have absolutely no prospect of a cure. Your only future is one of abject pain and suffering until your body can take no more and you die in absolute misery. This is the reality for many. In my case, my pain was not life-threatening yet if I had been told that I would have to live out the rest of my life in this condition, then I would have seriously considered my way forward.

We hear from so many who quote instances of their partner, spouse, friend or relative who received good palliative care and their pain was controlled and they are against assisted dying – well I am very happy for them but for a great many, the pain cannot be controlled adequately. Those of you who indulge in virtue signalling for whatever reason taking a stand against assisted dying and for those with a genuine conviction (religious or otherwise) against it, may I suggest will most certainly reconsider when it is YOU personally undergoing the suffering.

My own personal experiences have led me to greater understanding of the arguments for assisted dying.

It is time we said yes.

Steve H