Part of a recent column in the South Wales Argus
YOUR MP WRITES: Paul Flynn Newport West MP
It’s MPs and only MPs who can act. The courts do Parliament’s bidding.
To our shame we have debated assisted dying only once in the past 30 years. The distressed face of Tony Nicklinson haunts us.
He told his loving heroic wife not to mourn him. His locked-in condition meant that he was ‘already dead’. He feared another 20 years trapped inside a body that he could not control.
We were all moved by the pictures of him wracked with sobs after the court turned down his request to die at a time of his choice.
The cruelty of our present laws gives no autonomy to others in similar situations except to starve themselves to death. In the parliamentary debate in March, I read out a harrowing account of a local person who suffered the final torment of death by starvation. The law denied her the merciful end that she and her relatives desired.
Those countries that have introduced humane end of life laws are all strengthening them. In Oregon in the USA their controversial Death with Dignity laws were twice approved by an overwhelming majority of the public. The Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland have legal frameworks that allow assisted dying. They have pioneered this bold step. In every instance public support has grown because the feared abuse of the reforms did not happen.
A series of opinion polls in Britain prove than 80% of the population would like a law to allow assisted dying under controlled conditions.
We hear a great deal about many of our human rights. An important one that our timid politicians have neglected is our right to die in dignity.