Sir Chris Woodhead, former Chief Inspector of Schools, has told The Sunday Times that he doubts politicians in Britain will have the courage to pass the draft legislation on assisted suicide.
Woodhead has motor neurone disease, a progressive illness that gradually takes away the ability to perform basic functions. Diagnosed 7 years ago, Woodhead can no longer feed himself or turn the pages of a book, but considers he still has a good life.
Yet he believes that the time will come, perhaps when he can no longer speak, or breathe unaided, when his quality of life will mean that he does not wish to continue living. He has been scornful of Dignitas in the past, saying he would rather hurl himself off a cliff in his wheelchair, but believes if the Government will not act it is wrongly limiting the options for those who take the grave decision to end their own life, but who do not have the ability to do so themselves.
Woodhead has spoken movingly of the need to allow people of sound mind to decide for themselves whether their life is worth living, and to grant them a way to end it, most notably on Radio 4’s ‘No Triumph, No Tragedy’ interview with Peter White.
In a recent article Camilla Cavendish in The Sunday Times praised Woodhead’s fortitude in the face of his illness and its effects, whilst finding the proposed legislation “sane, merciful, clear and limited”. She joins a chorus of commentators and many of the public who ask for a way to a ‘good death’, in circumstances where we would gladly put an animal out of its misery.
The Bill to de-criminalise assisting a terminally ill person to die if they have less than six months to live and safeguards are respected is currently going through parliament.
Sunday Times article (behind paywall)