Post readers say assisted suicide should be legalised
ASSISTED suicide should be made legal, according to the majority of respondents to a Post survey.
Eighty-eight per cent of 317 people who answered the question believed it should be legalised.
The controversial issue has been brought back into focus by the case of George Martin – an 86-year-old terminally-ill man from Notts who wants to be allowed to die.
Exactly 280 people said that he should have his wish granted, with only 29 people saying that he shouldn't.
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The remaining eight people who had responded by 5pm were undecided.
Under current UK law, assisted suicide is illegal and anyone found guilty of such an offence could serve a maximum jail sentence of 14 years.
Speaking yesterday, Mr Martin blamed the reason the law had not been changed in the UK on a collective Christian consciousness which had prohibited any meaningful discussion on the issue.
But Lenton vicar Megan Smith – who his also a doctor at the Queen's Medical Centre – presented a different view.
She said: "I think many faiths value the sanctity of life as being very important and that it's not all right to take it.
"How do you enforce a law that means it will not be exploited?
"From a Christian perspective the challenge to society is not about how to make it easier to kill themselves, but rather how do we work together as a society to make even those who are terminally ill feel valued and loved, and that there is some purpose to their life?"
Eileen Walters, 82, who suffers from dementia and lives in The Meadows, is in a similar position to Mr Martin.
The pensioner needs round-the-clock care from her devoted daughter, Kate Walters, 46.
Kate said: "Before the dementia had taken such a strong hold on Mum, she always used to say she wanted to be assisted to die.
"She too wanted the law to be changed and when I read Mr Martin's story it made me feel like she wasn't alone.
"Unfortunately the dementia has taken such a strong hold it's difficult to know what she wants."
Ms Walters lost her husband Frederick Walters in 2001 to lung cancer and her daughter said that was another reason why, should she ever become terminally ill, she would want to end her own life.
The campaign group Dignity in Dying said a new assisted-dying Bill, which if passed would make assisted suicide legal, will be tabled by Lord Falconer QC in the House of Lords in the coming months.