Terminally ill have been ‘failed’ by legislators, says man set to end life early

A terminally ill man who plans to travel to Switzerland to end his life before the year is out says legislators have so far “failed” people on assisted dying laws.

David Peace who plans to travel to Switzerland to end his life before the year is out.

David Peace, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in 2019, can no longer speak or swallow, receives nutrition through a tube into his stomach, and fears choking to death every day.

The 73-year-old, from Westminster, said he is reluctantly choosing to end his life prematurely so he is spared “intolerable” suffering in future.

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The current law means he needs to travel abroad before his disease progresses to the extent that he cannot manage the journey or administer the medication.

He hopes to travel to Dignitas in Switzerland in the next two months.

Mr Peace, who communicates by text to voice software on his iPad, was interviewed by email.

He said: “Reluctantly I’m being propelled to bring forward my death by the relentless attacks on my body, with no hope of relief or cure, and no legal or dignified remedy in Britain other than continual suffering with more and more pills, opiates and sedation, tubes into the throat and other intervention.”

He added: “If the law in the UK were different my life would be longer and my end of life would not entail the hassle and difficulty of international travel at the most vulnerable point in my life.”

In Scotland, a consultation is underway on the Assisted Dying Bill lodged by Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur.Holyrood has twice voted down attempts to introduce similar legislation, but Mr McArthur insisted there are “strong safeguards” in his proposals – which are supported by Dignity in Dying Scotland, Friends at the End and the Humanist Society Scotland.

Those who oppose a law change say it would place pressure on people to end their lives and that the current laws protect the vulnerable.

Mr Peace said the legislation is needed to “rectify the dire lack of choice and control” for people with terminal illnesses, and it would offer them “a true choice, not an obligation, with proper safeguards to protect against coercion or depression”.

A change in the law is “long overdue”, he said, adding: “Our legislators have failed us thus far.”

It comes as polling for the charity Dignity in Dying suggests 74 per cent of British people want the UK Parliament to change the law.

Dr Gordon Macdonald, chief executive of Care Not Killing, said polling shows there has been a drop in support for legalising assisted suicide in recent years.

He said there is evidence from other countries that people are ending their lives because they fear being a burden, have financial worries or feel lonely, and concerns that safeguards could be eroded.

Dr Macdonald continued: “It is disappointing at a time when we have seen widespread discrimination against the elderly and disabled people that a small number of campaigners and some politicians continue to press for assisted suicide, obscuring the wider debate about how we care for the most vulnerable in society and how we improve access to palliative care, whilst even mentioning the savings which can be made by helping people to kill themselves and that doctors could sign off deaths via video consultations.”

The Samaritans can be contacted on 116123 or email [email protected]