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Assisted Suicide For Right-To-Die Campaigner With Arthritis

April 4, 2011

Personally, I believe in the right to live. So when I start agreeing with a spokesperson for the group Dignity In Dying, I get scared. Very scared.

In my opinion, cases like this one are exactly why the law on assisted dying should not be changed in the UK.

A pensioner who championed the elderly’s right to choose when they die has travelled to Switzerland for an assisted suicide.

Nan Maitland, 84, a founder of the Society for Old Age Rational Suicide (Soars), did not suffer from a terminal illness but had arthritis.

The mother of three, who was separated, said her life involved “more pain than pleasure” and travelled abroad with two colleagues for the doctor-assisted death.

Friends At The End (Fate), a Glasgow-based right-to-die group, released the goodbye message she wrote to family and friends.

It said: “By the time you read this, with the help of Fate and the good Swiss, I will have gone to sleep, never to wake. For some time, my life has consisted of more pain than pleasure and over the next months and years the pain will be more and the pleasure less.

“I have a great feeling of relief that I will have no further need to struggle through each day in dread of what further horrors may lie in wait. For many years, I have feared the long period of decline, sometimes called ‘prolonged dwindling’, that so many people unfortunately experience before they die.

“Please be happy for me that I have been able to escape from this, for me, unbearable future. I have had a wonderful life, and the great good fortune to die at a time of my own choosing, and in the good company of two Fate colleagues.

“With my death, on March 1, I feel I am fully accepting the concept of ‘old age rational suicide’ which I have been very pleased to promote, especially in the past 15 months. Being active in the right-to-die movement, both in the UK and globally, has been an enormously important part of my life in the last few years.”

Mrs Maitland, a former occupational therapist, who lived in Chelsea, London, travelled the world as part of the controversial movement.

A spokesman for Dignity in Dying said it opposed Mrs Maitland’s stance. “Dignity in Dying does not support a change in the law to allow non-terminally ill people the legal option to ask for help to end their life – we campaign for a change in the law to allow the choice of assisted dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults only. No one should have to suffer against their wishes in the final days and weeks of their lives, and the law should seek to address this, as well as seeking to protect vulnerable people against abuse.”

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