Latest from Living and Dying Well

[UK] ‘Dignitas death sparks renewed controversy over assisted suicide law’ 26th May 2015, The Telegraph ‘Jeffrey Spector, who took his own life at the notorious Swiss clinic despite not being terminally ill, admitted: “I am jumping the gun”’

 [UK] The Metro have opened an online opinion poll on whether assisted suicide should be legalised in response:

[UK] ‘Man who killed himself at Dignitas explains decision in film’ 26th May 2015, The Guardian ‘Businessman Jeffrey Spector, who was diagnosed with inoperable tumour on his spine that would have led to paralysis, used film to discuss assisted dying.’

[UK] ‘’No one knows what the people who use Dignitas are going through, but they are the lucky ones’ 26th May 2015, The Telegraph ‘Campaigner Jane Nicklinson, whose husband Tony passed away in 2012 after a lost seven-year High Court battle, on their struggle to find dignity in death’

 There has also been coverage in relation to the MSP vote on the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill, due to be debate on Wednesday, May 27th:

 [Scotland] ‘Petition opposes assisted suicide’ May 21st 2015, The Extra

‘Campaigners opposed to allowing assisted suicide in Scotland have delivered a 15,300-signature petition to Holyrood ahead of the vote on the legislation next week.’

 [Scotland] ‘Survey finds support for proposals to legalise assisted suicide’ May 24th 2015, STV

‘Almost three-quarters of adults support proposals to legalise assisted suicide in principle, according to a new poll published ahead of a vote on legislation next week. MSPs will debate and vote on the general principles of the Assisted Suicide Bill when it comes before Holyrood on Wednesday.’

 [Scotland] ‘Assisted suicide bill in doubt’ May 24th 2015, The Times

‘With Holyrood to debate the issue on Wednesday, a new poll suggests that support for the law change is ebbing away, writes Jason Allardyce’

[Scotland] ‘Muslim leaders intervene in assisted suicide debate and urge MSPs to block Bill at Holyrood vote’ May 26th 2015, The Herald The spiritual leaders of Scotland’s Muslim community have called for politicians to vote against a controversial law that would legalise assisted suicide.



Dying without Dignity report launched plus other stories

Living and Dying Well Media Bulletin, 21st May 2015

The Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman released its report ‘Dying without Dignity’ yesterday morning. It reported that ‘End of life care could be improved for up to 355,000 people a year in England’.

The report can be accessed at:

The press release can be found at:,-ombudsman-service-report-finds

In response, Baroness Finlay was interviewed by Sky News, Radio 5 live and LBC News.

She notes that: ‘Everyone at the end of life needs access to comprehensive, seven day a week expert care to ensure that what they experience, and what lives on in the memories of those left behind, is the good death that we aim to make possible for everyone.’

Agnes Fletcher, Director of Living and Dying Well, has submitted a letter to The Telegraph (publication forthcoming), in which she writes: ‘clinical expertise exists and, despite these tragic cases, is experienced by many. The challenge is to ensure that good quality end of life care services are available around the clock and regardless of age, where we live, our level of education and type of illness. Free social care at the end of life, as recommended in March by the Health Select Committee, would keep many more people in their own homes and out of hospital – better for those of us who would prefer to die at home and better for our overstretched hospitals.’

The story was picked up by (amongst others):

·         The Telegraph –

·         The Guardian –

·         The Times –

·         ITV News

·         Sky News –

·         BBC News –

The Independent (May 20th 2015) report that: “Many elderly people approach the end of their lives with a degree of acceptance. They do not fear death but they do fear dying. This report shows why. It is what leads to debate over assisted suicide, travelling to Dignitas in Switzerland and the rights and wrongs of giving death a helping hand. Yet with good palliative care, a good death is not just possible – it should be routine.”–this-report-shows-why-10262052.html

Similar stories have also arisen in response to the Dying Matters Awareness Week that is currently taking place:

[UK] ‘While medicine gets better, dying gets worse: Doctors are so good at saving lives that we forget about death’ May 18th 2015, The Independent

“Junior doctors still leave medical school – as I did – ill-equipped to care for the dying”

[UK] ‘Medics must realise that death is an inevitable part of life, not a failure’ May 18th 2015, The Guardian

“Over the course of next parliament, approximately 3 million people in the UK can be expected to die, half of whom are likely to die in hospital – which for many people is the last place they would like to die.”

In other news:

[Scotland] ‘MSPs to vote on assisted suicide next week’ May 20th 2015, The Scotsman

“Campaigners against assisted suicide are to hand in a 15,000 strong petition at Parliament opposing the plans with MSPs poised to vote on the measure next Wednesday.”

[The Netherlands] ‘Dutch court: Euthanasia no longer requires a doctor’s order’ May 18th 2015, World Magazine

“A Dutch appeals court has cleared a man charged with assisting his 99-year-old mother to commit suicide in a case that could expand the country’s euthanasia laws.”

[USA] ‘Calif. Medical Association drops opposition to assisted death’ May 19th 2015, The News Tribune

“SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — The California Medical Association has become the first state medical association in the nation to drop opposition to what has long been known as “physician-assisted suicide,” it said, acknowledging a shift in doctor and patient attitudes about end-of-life and aid-in-dying options.”

[India] ‘Clarity from SC, dialogue on euthanasia need of the hour’ may 19th 2015, The Times of India

“The death of Aruna Shanbagh has brought into focus the urgent need for clarity from the Supreme Court on the issue of withholding or withdrawing futile medical treatment. While passing a judgement related to Aruna Shanbagh, the Supreme Court seems to have created some confusion by referring to “passive euthanasia” Dr Nagesh Simha, President of the Indian Association of Palliative Care tells Rema Nagarajan how it is ethical to withhold or withdraw futile medical intervention and the urgent need for clarity in the law.”




Living and Dying Well Update

Living and Dying Well Media Bulletin, 12 May 2015

[UK] ‘Falconer returns to front bench’, The Law Society Gazette, 11 May 2015

“Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the former lord chancellor who oversaw the creation of the Ministry of Justice under Tony Blair, is to replace Sadiq Khan as shadow justice secretary, Labour acting leader Harriet Harman revealed today.”

 [New Zealand] ‘SA right-to-die case may help NZ woman’ Independent Online News, 10 May 2015

“On Saturday New Zealand-born Professor Sean Davison, who founded the organisation Dignity SA, which backed the local assisted suicide case and which now backs the New Zealand case, told Weekend Argus it was apparent the South African ruling was having an international impact.”

 [Scotland] ‘MSPs set to reject flawed assisted suicide proposal’, Scotland Catholic Observer, 8 May 8 2015

“The Scottish Parliament appears poised to reject the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill after the Holyrood committee reviewing the controversial legislation said that it contained ‘significant flaws.’”


[South Africa] ‘Justice Dept concerned as assisted suicide applications increase’, Eyewitness News, 8 May 2015

“Last week, the High Court in Pretoria granted terminal cancer patient Robin Stransham-Ford his request for an assisted death. While the department plans to appeal this ruling, it says the case has now opened the doors for many others.”

 [Australia] ‘Vic end of life inquiry set up’ The Daily Mail, 7 May 2015

“Victoria’s parliament has voted to launch an inquiry into end of life issues and palliative care.

The upper house decided on the action on Thursday after an original bid to hand the task to the Victorian Law Reform Commission failed to get up.”



Urgent Call to action We need your support now.

Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance Statement

We are opposed to legalisation of assisted suicide. It will remove equality and choice from disabled people and further contribute to our oppression. If the Assisted Dying Bill is passed, some Disabled and terminally ill people’s lives will be ended without their consent, through mistakes, subtle pressure and abuse.  No safeguards have ever been enacted or proposed that can prevent this outcome – an outcome which can never be undone.

With two Assisted Dying bills currently before parliament, it is really important that Deaf and Disabled people and our organisations speak out loudly against the legalisation of assisted suicide and raise awareness of the threat this poses to disability equality.

Our message is that we want support to live not die. At a time when essential support is being taken away from us, when the challenges we face are exponentially growing as a direct result of adverse government policy, it is more dangerous than ever to introduce legislation which encourages suicide as a solution to the barriers Disabled people face.

We say: give Disabled people a right to independent living before a right to suicide.

Below are different ways that DDPOs and Disabled campaigners can take action and get involved. We realise that not everyone has the time to do everything but anything you are able to contribute to the campaign would be valued.


  • Sign up to the ROFA statement (above). It is extremely important we can evidence that Disabled people and our organisations are opposed to assisted suicide to counter the arguments of those in favour of the bill who present it as progressive legislation. Email your organisation’s name to
  • Write to or arrange to meet your local MP (even over the Summer they will be receiving and responding to mail). You can download a template letter here. Please send us copies of any responses you receive.
  • Tell your members about the campaign and how they can get involved – you could adapt this information for a newsletter article or website post or include the Assisted Dying bills on your next campaigns/speaking up meeting agenda. Support as many of your members to make contact with their MP over this issue as possible.
  • Dates for your diary – publicise the events happening below, send representatives and support your members to attend.


  • Contact your MP – you can use our template letter here. Please send us copies of any responses you receive.We are also encouraging Disabled people to meet their MPs to put forward your views in person. Some MPs are organising public meetings to canvass the views of their constituents – check their websites to see if your MP is one of these.
  • If you have a personal story about this subject which informs your view on it and which you are willing to share please let us know. We are also looking for Disabled people who are happy to speak to the media about why we oppose legalisation of assisted suicide.

Dates for your diary

  • 13 August 2015 (1.30 – 5.00pm)
    Assisted Suicide Briefing Day for DPOs and Disabled campaigners
    organised by Inclusion London, Not Dead Yet UK and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).
  • 11 September
    Not Dead Yet UK/DPAC Protest.
    Gather outside Parliament to show our opposition to Marris’ bill while it is being debated inside. Meet Old Palace Yard (opposite the House of Lord’s) from 9am.

Is your MP one of the named supporters of Marris’ bill?

DPAC is encouraging campaign groups to organise protests outside the constituency offices of those MPs who have put their name to Marris’ Assisted Dying bill. If you would like support to organise a local protest or for more information contact

(See to check if your MP is named.


Not Dead Yet UK launches video blog

In order to keep our supporters in touch with our activities Sian Vasey, a Not Dead Yet UK supporter has launched a new video blog which we hope will become a regular part of our campaign to resist changes to the assisted dying law.

You can watch the video by clicking on this link Not Dead Yet UK Video Blog May 2015

Here is the text of the Blog

Hello, my name is Sian Vasey and this is a news blog from Not Dead Yet UK. Not dead yet is the network of disabled people opposed to the legalisation of assisted dying.

We work with other groups to make the opposition case against change in the law. Last year, we led on disabled peoples’ participation in demonstrations held outside the House of Lords during the debate on Lord Falconer’s Bill. We also put people forward for a vast amount of media coverage because we want disabled people to be very visible in the debate.

This news blog aims to keep people connected during the gaps between these busy times. We’ll keep you updated on what other groups such as Care Not Killing and Dying and Living Well are doing and also what’s happening in other countries where assisted dying or, as we believe it should be called, assisted suicide, has actually been made legal.

We want to keep you informed and we need your ideas and your stories. Why are you opposed to assisted dying? We need to know you’re out there and we want you to be part of what we’re doing, so please contact us through the Not Dead yet website or on Facebook via Liz Carr’s Facebook page.

We’ll get the next block to you very soon, so do keep a lookout.

By for now.


Kevin Fitzpatrick personal view on the death of Terry Pratchett

Conversation with Terry Pratchett

My first ‘outing’ on the assisted suicide/euthanasia debate was a student debate in Trinity College Dublin. I was very new to the subject and in truth, a very slick Phillip Nitschke wiped the floor with me. I swore it would never happen again, although something similar did, just once more, a couple of months later when the supposedly independent chair of a debate in London, Jon Snow, aggressively turned on those of us who were opposed to legalising any third party intervention in decision-making at the end of someone’s life. I have learned a great deal since then, have a much deeper understanding of the catastrophic consequences of laws permitting assisted suicide/euthanasia.

Another of my opponents in Trinity that evening was Sir Terry Pratchett. He asked me for a conversation afterwards, and I was happy to oblige, to try to understand his thinking and motivation better.

He struck me as an intelligent, considered, but understandably frightened man. As much as I detest what he has done to promote such terrible outcomes, I think he was genuine in his fear. He listened respectfully to me, in complete contrast to Nitschke, and we spoke for as long as possible with the queue of ardent young fans waiting for his autograph and a chance to speak to their hero. I could not deny them for very long. He was as kind to them as he had been in seeking me out in the first place.

I thought it interesting how little he seemed to be fronting the media coverage of the debate after Dublin. Though I have no insight into why, except that he won the audience hearts that night by pausing frequently to search for his words. They too reacted with natural human sympathy for a man faced with an uncertain future apart from the knowledge that death would not be far away. He did say he was finding it harder to do stints like this. Barely three and a half years later, he has died at the early age of 66, from his ‘embuggerance’, Alzheimer’s Disease.

I discovered a gentle man, concerned to listen and evaluate anew. Would that I had had the depth of knowledge I do now – at the time I had nothing to offer him that might have changed his mind. For I think he would have listened. I have no wish to be disrespectful to the man, which is more than I can say for Nitschke who, thankfully, has just been struck off by the Australian Medical Association. The contrast between an intelligent, thoughtful and deeply worried man and the other one, could not be greater. Pratchett had a warm reaction to me that led me to believe he was more in solidarity with me as a disabled man than he was with Australia’s Doctor Death.

I have said nothing since about Terry Pratchett except what I repeat here now. Some of my colleagues in opposition to legalising assisted suicide/euthanasia might find it strange, distasteful, even wrong that I should say this much about him, but on the only evidence I have, I stand by this: he was convinced by his own experience of suffering. He drew conclusions diametrically opposed to mine. But he also witnessed the death of Peter Smedley in that awful Swiss house, and so watched a man struggling to die for more than half an hour, choking to death in the most terrible way, enduring the very kind of death he had sought to avoid at all costs. How that affected the world-famous author I do not know.

If reports are to be believed he found solace in his true vocation, his writing. I hope his lasting legacy will come from that aspect of his life, which enriched so many, rather than this other campaign. I desperately hope others in the pro-death lobby will resist the urge to make political capital from his passing. But I doubt it – cynicism is their sinecure.

He died the kind of death I imagine we all want, at home with his loving family and his cat on his bed. I hope he got what he wanted, a peaceful end, painless as possible, free from distress as far as it is possible in the process of dying. For as I said, regardless of how I feel about what he was promoting and how wrong I think he was about the consequences, he was convinced and could argue for it respectfully. It is with the same respect he showed me that I say again, he was a gentleman, and I for one am sorry we have lost all the good things that Sir Terry Pratchett brought to the world not least his books that have given and will give pleasure for decades to come.


Seminar to discuss the Assisted Dying Bill 25th February 2015 House of Lords


This event is hosted and chaired by: Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE and Baroness Jane Campbell of Surbiton


The Seminar will focus on where we are up to on the Assisted Dying Bill, especially in terms of the legislative programme and discussing strategies for when the Bill will almost certainly return after the election. STRATEGIES: We would welcome any suggestions as to how to move the campaign forward and an opportunity will be available to pitch ideas. We need advance notice of your wish to pitch so that we may allocate time, (approximately 5 minutes) to you. BUSINESS: Elspeth Chowdharay-Best (ALERT) is also taking advantage of this event to step down as Honorary Secretary for this organisation. DISTANT VOICES will be taking over ALERT and hope to bring some fresh ideas to the table and to build on Elspeth’s years of hard work for vulnerable people.

ADMISSION, please state how many people you are bringing Will be by invitation only, please RSVP by email or phone 01588 660528, let us know who and how many people you are bringing.

Due to the short notice for this event please bring along this email as your verification to gain entrance. To ensure that the meeting can start promptly at 5pm. please arrive at the Cromwell Green Visitors Entrance no later than 4.15pm, to give us all time to go through security.


Collection of Press and associated articles supplied by Living and Dying Well

Falconer Bill; assisted suicide/dying, UK

‘Living and Dying Well: three reflections’:

‘Like Stephen Hawking, I’m past my sell-by date’:

‘Lord Cashman: When my husband was dying I contemplated suicide’:

‘Assisted Dying Bill threatens doctor-patient relationship’: 

‘GP warning as Lords vote brings assisted dying closer’:  

Coverage of Association of Palliative Medicine letter to the media and a Chesterfield’s Ashgate Hospice expert opposes assisted dying Bill:

Peers seek to limit law on assisted dying’:  

‘Top doctor in warning on assisted dying’:

‘Experts raise new concerns over bid to legalise assisted suicide’:

‘Hospice chief warns against assisted suicide for youngsters’:

‘Kirk minister backs assisted dying in principle’:

Assisted suicide around the world

‘New rules about assisted suicide may be introduced in the near future’, Germany:

‘Court of appeals to hear arguments on assisted suicide in New Mexico’:

‘Does Your Right To Life Include The Right To Die?’, USA: 

‘A humane alternative to physician-assisted suicide’, USA:

‘Discussion over ‘death with dignity’ emerging in Maryland’:

Euthanasia around the world

‘Euthanasia for dying toddler rejected’, China:

‘Polls Show Majority Supporting Euthanasia’, Slovenia:

‘Euthanasia clinic criticised for helping woman with severe tinnitus to die’, Holland:

‘Clinic reprimanded for tinnitus euthanasia’, Holland:

Australian MP and advocate of euthanasia dies:


Demo begins at Houses of Parliament at 9:30am 16th January

Kill the Bill Not Us!

We really need your support on Friday the 16th January

The House of Lords is going into committee again to debate Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill on Friday the 16th of January 2015.

They will be specifically looking at amendments concerning the definition of terminal illness and the role of doctors in assisted death.

Not Dead Yet UK will once again be showing its opposition and its strength by gathering outside the Houses of Parliament from 9:30am on the morning of the 16th until 1 pm at the latest. We need your presence and also your ideas as to how we can make this protest as effective as possible.

Please do your best to join us on the day and let us know if you have ideas for how we can make our point effectively.


Kill the Bill Demonstration 16th January

Kill the Bill Not Us!

We really need your support on Friday the 16th January

The House of Lords is going into committee again to debate Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill on Friday the 16th of January 2015.

They will be specifically looking at amendments concerning the definition of terminal illness and the role of doctors in assisted death.

Not Dead Yet UK will once again be showing its opposition and its strength by gathering outside the Houses of Parliament from on the morning of the 16th until 1 pm at the latest. (Precise timings will be published on our website nearer the time). We need your presence and also your ideas as to how we can make this protest as effective as possible.

Please do your best to join us on the day and let us know if you have ideas for how we can make our point effectively.