THE widower of a city GP who campaigned for the right to die has welcomed a Bill to legalise assisted dying.
Klim McPherson said Lord Falconer’s Bill – making its way through the House of Lords – was important to establish the principle of legalising assisted dying.
But the Bishop of Oxford the Rt Rev John Pritchard warned the Bill could see “vulnerable” people “manipulated”.
Mr McPherson lost his wife-of-43 years Ann – with whom he had three children – to pancreatic cancer aged 65 in May 2011.
She founded Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying to encourage medics to back the cause.
The Private Member’s bill, which is unlikely to win Government support, would let doctors give “competent adults” with less than six months to live a lethal dose.
Mr McPherson, 72, said: “The point is to get the principle established.
“People don’t have to live in fear of having a terrible death and they can do something about it of their own choice.”
A previous Lords bid, by Lord Joffe, was blocked in the House in 2006.
But Mr McPherson – a public health professor at the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology – said: “That didn’t get passed because the press were totally opposed. Now they are not totally opposed.”
Dr McPherson worked in North Oxford for 35 years and said in her final days: “If I had the choice there is no question I would prefer to be dead because I feel so ill.”
Her husband said: “It was awful.
“She was so brave. She stuck with it as if it was her problem.”
Bishop John said: “Why is this Bill flawed? First because the possibility of influencing, persuading or manipulating a vulnerable or depressed person to choose death are too great.
“Second because the Dutch experience is that it opens the door to a seriously dangerous extension of the circumstances in which assisted dying can take place.
“Third because it fundamentally changes the doctor-patient relationship which is based on a presumption of help to live not help to die.
“Fourth because all the major medical organisations are against it.
“Fifth because investment in palliative medical care is a much better option. It all says to me: ‘Don’t go there’.”
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith welcomed the debate and said: “I really do worry about bringing about a culture where vulnerable or elderly people might feel they are a burden and under some obligation to opt for assisted dying.”
Other county MPs did not respond to a request for comment.
THE Bill is for “competent adults” with a “clear and settled intention” to end their life.
They must be diagnosed as terminally ill and be “reasonably expected to die within six months”.
The person would sign a declaration countersigned by two doctors and only they could take the lethal medicine.
A doctor must be satisifed they have the “capacity” to make the decision in line with the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
It says a person who “provides any assistance in accordance with this Act shall not be guilty of an offence”.
Any declaration “with the intention of causing the death of another person” faces life imprisonment.
PM David Cameron has said he is not “convinced” by the change.
Without Government backing, MPs are unlikely to get a chance to debate it and to make it law.
- Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone's contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.
- Send your Letter to the Editor: What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter for publication here
Our top stories
- Managing director Greig Box Turnbull to leave Oxford United at end of season
- Companies still signing up for jobs fair at Oxford Town Hall
- Hundreds will gather as soldier killed in Iraq is repatriated
- Staff and students celebrate actress's big win at the Golden Globes
- Inquests opened into death of couple who died in cottage fire on Blenheim Palace estate
- Inquest opened into death of pensioner found in River Ock in Abingdon