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.
Our top stories
11:20am Monday 28th July 2014
What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter through the blue headline above.
8:30am Tuesday 6th October 2015
A FATHER has been jailed for nine years for violently shaking his baby son to death in a fit of frustration.
8:30am Tuesday 6th October 2015
The brother of Oxford United striker James Roberts has died after being involved in a car accident on Saturday night.
9:00am Tuesday 6th October 2015
A D-DAY war veteran has received the highest honour from the French Government more than 70 years after landing on the beaches of Normandy.
8:00am Tuesday 6th October 2015
THE 5p levy on plastic carrier bags has been dubbed a “no brainer” as government introduces the scheme to save millions in clean up costs.
7:00am Tuesday 6th October 2015
TWO Oxfordshire MPs spoke of the love and “wonderful” care hospices gave their families as they helped launch a week dedicated to the vital centres.
6:30am Tuesday 6th October 2015
CARE workers have described the moment they found an autistic teenager unconscious in a bath at a health unit, an inquest heard.