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Tanni Grey-Thompson says current assisted dying laws are "a safeguard to protect people"

Assisted Suicide
22 January 2024
Tanni Grey Thompspn

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, a distinguished Paralympic athlete and member of the House of Lords, has raised significant concerns regarding proposed changes to the UK's assisted dying law.

She believes these changes could place undue pressure on disabled individuals, potentially leading them to feel compelled to end their lives due to societal pressures or a lack of adequate care options.

"We don't want to get to a place where people think, 'I have had a good life, I am going to go now before it gets too bad'," she says.

Tanni Grey-Thompson highlighted the importance of the current legal framework as a protective measure.

She noted, "What we have got now, with the law as it stands, is a safeguard to protect people,” arguing that to alter the law could fundamentally change the relationship between individuals, particularly those with disabilities, and society at large.

Her concerns are set against the backdrop of Dame Esther Rantzen, a renowned broadcaster, joining Swiss clinic Dignitas and advocating for a change in the law.

Rantzen, who is 83 and has lung cancer, has spoken about considering an assisted death if her condition worsens.

Current UK laws, which deem assisted dying illegal in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, could lead to prosecution of family members who assist in such acts.

In Scotland, while not a specific criminal offence, assisting in someone's death could result in murder or manslaughter charges.

Baroness Grey-Thompson strongly believes in the value of palliative care, stating, "No one should have to have a terrible death if they have access to good, specialist palliative care."

She argues that the focus should be on improving care options rather than altering laws that might inadvertently pressure vulnerable individuals, like those with disabilities, to consider ending their lives.

The debate over assisted dying laws in the UK remains contentious.

CARE, a charity advocating for better investment in good palliative care, worries about the potential for societal and healthcare pressures to unduly influence the most vulnerable.

As the discussion continues, the voices of disabled individuals and their advocates remain crucial in shaping the future of these laws.

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Assisted Suicide

Where assisted suicide is legal, it makes vulnerable people feel like a burden. CARE works to uphold laws that protect those people, and to assist them to live—not to commit suicide.

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