WESTMINISTER, April 28, 2006 ( – Nearly 72,000 letters expressing concern at plans to legalise assisted suicide were delivered to members of the House of Lords today. It is believed that this is one of the biggest ever concerted efforts to lobby peers by letter.

  Those delivering the letters included doctors, nurses, care workers and people who have had personal experience of being with family or friends suffering from terminal illness. One letter writer, Dr Bernarda Sekolec, aged 94 of Chingford, wrote: ” My fear now is that this Bill will open the floodgates for people in my current state of disability to feel obliged to request assistance in taking their own lives. Yes, I do feel a burden on others but those who care for me do not see me as a burden. They have told me that caring for me is good for them as it makes them feel they are doing something worthwhile.”
  The letters are about Lord Joffe’s Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill which is to be debated in the House of Lords on May 12. The personal letters, from 100 independent individuals, have each been copied 716 times so that each peer who can vote will receive a version of each letter.

  Mr Leon Menzies Racionzer of Woodford, Essex, the organiser, said: ” Lord Joffe’s bill will open the floodgates. If it becomes law, then people who are perceived as being a burden could be put down. The answer is actually palliative care for the long-term ill, not death.

“We need to arm those peers who are on our side. Very many people are concerned. These letters come from people at the cutting edge. There would be many peers who probably wouldn’t even turn up for a debate on a non-government bill but, if they get 100 letters through the letter-box, they may think twice.”

  Many letter writers noted that the government is pursuing assisted suicide when proper care for elderly and terminally ill persons has not yet been provided.Â

  Mrs Coleen Carlile wrote: “My husband contracted a brain tumour at the age of forty and spent months battling with his illness. The pain was real for him and also for me, watching him die, but I know those last precious months of his life were important for both of us, and for our young children, in order to say our goodbyes properly. What we did have to fight for was decent palliative care, which was hard to obtain due to lack of beds, but once we did have that option, my husband’s pain was eased and we spent many valuable hours together in peace and, odd though it may seem in the circumstances, happiness.”

  Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: “Peers must realise the fear that this bill is causing among people most affected: elderly people, disabled people, medical staff and those who have cared for dying relatives. People want to see the bill defeated on 12 May, so that the threat of the Joffe bill ends there.”


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